Temple Shooting Victims' Selflessness Honored at Funeral
Thousands attended the funeral Friday for the six Sikhs who were gunned down Sunday at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. While there were many tears, there was also a celebration of the selflessness exhibited by the victims before they were killed.
It was mixed emotions Friday at Oak Creek High School when thousands gathered to mourn the loss of six Sikhs gunned down Sunday in the Sikh Temple shooting.
While there were many tears, the mood felt less like a sad funeral and more like a celebration of the selflessness each of the victims exhibited during their lives.
Surjet Singh came all the way from Panaji, India to attend the funeral. He said the support from non-Sikhs and government alike was amazing and he hopes people will not be filled with hate even during such a difficult time.
“This is a big tragedy for us. Every Punjabi, every Sikh, every community want to participate in this. And everybody feels sad,” he said. “We are very impressed that this government, police, FBI, we give thanks to everybody.”
Alexa Beyer, an 18-year-old, said when she first heard about the shooting she was worried it was her friend, Navi's, temple – and she was right. After a string of phone calls, texts and Facebook messages exchanged over a few days, Beyer said they finally got word their friend, Navi, was safe.
“It was a really scary moment,” Beyer said.
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Erin McDonnell, Beyer's friend, came from Germantown to support Navi as well. While she waited in line, she said people around her talked about the different license plates that showed people were coming from all over.
“They’ve seen some from Colorado, Ontario and it’s all these different people,” McConnell said. “And I think it’s what they deserve because all the Sikh people deserve to know that not everyone’s like that and we’re all supporting them and praying for them.”
And it seems many Siks noticed the support and prayers. Many of the speeches given during the service began and ended with thanks for support from Sikhs, non-Sikhs, government, friends and family.
At the end of the four-hour visitation and funeral, Sikh family members followed the caskets of their lost loved ones as they were loaded into hearses parked behind Oak Creek High School. Wailing, one woman was followed by EMS personnel and a radio sounded that they needed a wheel chair.
Sam Singh came from Chicago to support his Sikh community in Wisconsin and said more than anything, it's a matter of education and continuing to support one another.
“We are sad, it happened in Colorado and now it’s here,” he said. “We have to educate people, that we need to know each other more than ever before. We cannot live like this.”