Sikh Memorial: 'Their Death Isn't In Vain'

People from around the world came to Oak Creek High School Friday morning for the funeral of six people who died in attack at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.

The caskets came in one by one.

In a mostly empty gym, before thousands of people would file in, members of the Sikh community brought in the bodies of Prakash Singh, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Paramjit Kaur and Suveg Singh.

Six trips into the gym and back out. Each one only underscored the magnitude of the mass shooting Sunday at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. 

On Friday morning inside the gymnasium, family members and friends remembered the victims' lives while people from around the world came to pay their respects.

Mourners began lining up outside the high school just after 8 a.m. and made their way through the gymnasium throughout the 90-minute service, with the gym not able to hold everyone at once.

The service included remarks from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Gov. Scott Walker, while pictures of the six departed members of the Sikh temple were shown on a projection screen.

Speakers not only remembered those lost, but urged those watching in the gym and on television around the world to use Sunday's events to unite against hatred.

"They died in a place where God could take them," said a family member of Suveg Singh. "Their death isn't in vain."

They talked of Satwant Singh Kaleka, who came to America with $100 in his pocket but successfully built the temple from the ground up.

They spoke of Prakash Singh, who only recently was reunited with his wife and children from India.

And of Paramjit Kaur, a loving mother who always put others before herself.

Selflessness, in fact, is a common thread among all six who perished at the temple.

What is not common, and not discussed, was thoughts of revenge.

Quoting Jesus, Pardeep Kaleka said, "We must not fight hate with hate."

Holder noted immigrants' long history in the United States, particularly the upcoming 100th anniversary of the first gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) in the country. 

But he also said that violence against Sikhs has become too common in recent years. Everyone must ask themselves, Holder said: "What kind of a nation do we want to have?"

"Last Sunday morning, this community witnessed the very worst of humankind," Holder said. "But for every minute, every hour, and every day since then, you have exemplified and you have inspired the very best in who we are."

Walker added: "No matter what country your ancestors came from, no matter where you worship ... as Americans, we are one. And when you attack one of us, you attack all of us."

Joe Todor August 11, 2012 at 02:06 AM
OC Police wouldn't allow me to take pictures of anything inside.. I guess there's different rules being an Oak Creek resident.
Pennyluhu August 11, 2012 at 07:05 AM
Why did you feel the need to take photos of this very solemn occassion?
Joe Todor August 11, 2012 at 07:16 AM
maybe the same reason the other media people were there... The Gymnasium cannot hold the entire city of Oak Creek, nor the rest of the world.
Kathy123 August 11, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I agree with Pennyluhu, aren't the media pictures enough. Let the people mourn.
Joe Todor August 11, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I wouldn't be bothering the mourners any more than they are they are being broadcast thoughout the world. Who said I'm not the media ?
Terri August 11, 2012 at 06:23 PM
What media then, are you affiliated with?
Joe Todor August 11, 2012 at 07:08 PM
is it any of your bussiness ?
rob August 12, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Blessed be to the Sikh community your tragedy is our tragedy as human beings. I am a seeker of truth and this event has opened my mind and heart to a faith that is built on truth, love and equality. I knew nothing of the Sikh religion before this happened but I now know that deep down I am Sikh. God Bless everyone of us.
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) August 12, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Their death wasn't in vain because we get to learn all about this faith and feel sympathetic to it like we were with Muslims. Good thing they're "peaceful". Another media love story.


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