by Weber Drummond a/k/a Jasnam Daya Singh

In the piece below, an Oregon Sikh resident discusses the day he was escorted off an American Airlines flight in handcuffs because of his Sikh appearance.

Some days we don’t forget. For me, that day was November 4, 2010.

I have been traveling for over 30 years. Originally from Brazil, I visit my family and friends at least once a year, and as a musician I travel quite extensively across the United States and Europe to perform. Airports and airplanes are no strangers to me and I’m very familiar with the ways of traveling before and after September 11. Many things have changed, this I know. However, these changes haven’t made a difference in the way I travel. I’ve maintained the same behavior while at the airport and while airborne – one of respect and compliance with the professionals on the ground and on board, and with my fellow passengers.

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“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” – African Proverb

Like Sikhs worldwide, the Sikh Coalition solemnly remembers the 30th anniversary of the events of 1984, a turning point in modern Sikh history.

Thirty years ago, Sikhs in India were hunted.  They were hunted by the Indian Army at Darbar Sahib in Amritsar during Operation Bluestar.  They were hunted by Indian troops in the villages of Punjab during Operation Woodrose.  They were hunted by government-orchestrated mobs in urban cities throughout India following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.  Although thousands of Sikhs were killed because of their Sikh identity in 1984, their stories are still being written in ways that glorify the hunter.

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The following remarks were delivered by Inni Kaur at the Pentagon’s first-ever event to commemorate the Sikh faith on April 25, 2014. Hosted by the Office of the Pentagon Chaplain, the program was organized by Major Kalsi, Captain Rattan, Corporal Lamba, and the Sikh Coalition, an organization leading the campaign for turbaned Sikhs and other people of faith to be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.

Today, we have gathered here for Vaisakhi, a spring harvest festival which is celebrated by Punjabi farmers and many South Asian communities.

However, Vaisakhi has a very special significance for the Sikh community. It was the Vaisakhi of 1699, when the tenth of the Sikh Guru-Prophets — Guru Gobind Singh — invited his disciples to join him in the city of Anandpur Sahib, Panjab.

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By: Noor Kaur (Age 13)

From the panel of inspiring women, I learned many, many things. But the first thing that I remember when I think of this day, is that the only way to succeed, to make a lasting change in the world, is to be the warrior that you are waiting for. Princess is a term that people misunderstand. They think of a pretty girl, with her nails done perfectly, flawless hair, and a fragile personality. And (unfortunately) I believed this as well. I would always wonder that if Guru Gobind Ji announced that men and women were equal, why women would be known as “princess” and men as “lion”. Why were we the delicate daisy that always needed someone to help her down the stairs and pull the chair back for her at the dinner table.

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By Tevleen Kaur (age-10)

I went to the Sikh Coalition’s  Sikh Women event in New York. It was a lot of fun, and it was a good learning experience.  I learned that if I believe in myself I can do anything. I loved how Valerie Kaur said “find your shield and sword, be a warrior,” meaning find something that you can fight back with (not physically). Valerie Kaur’s shield was education because she went to Stanford, Harvard and Yale, and Inni Kaur’s shield was Gurbani because Gurbani would always tell her what’s right and guide her. Reshma Kaur said something that I liked very much.  She said, “cushion your life with loved ones” and “you got to clear the roadblocks from the road.”\

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By Herveen Kaur

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa,

Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

Last Saturday, along with Noor, Tevleen, Taveen and Ravneet, I had the opportunity to hear and speak with Valarie Kaur, Inni Kaur, and Reshma Singh. These are 3 extremely inspirational Sikh women, who have overcome obstacles and become very successful as leaders and shaping the image for Sikh women in America. There are a few life-changing lessons I learned that day that I would like to share with all of you.

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By Ravneet Kaur

I recently went to a Sikh Coalition conference focusing on Sikh women in modern day society. Words can’t describe how inspired and motivated I am after listening to three women who have laid the path for our future. These inspirations were Valerie Kaur, Inni Kaur and Reshma Singh. Each one of them has paved their own paths to change society positively. These women have taught me that a true Sikh woman has beauty inside and out, and the true meaning of Kaur is when you become the warrior.

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By: Taveen Kaur

March 30, 2014 I attended a Sikh Coalition seminar in New York City. The seminar was called “Sikh Women In Contemporary America”. The three main speakers were Inni Kaur, Reshma Kaur, and Valerie Kaur. Each of them spoke about their careers and how being a Sikh influenced their life decisions. The discussion was very intriguing and the thing that stuck in my head when I left and in the car ride home was that you need to find the path of your life, with Wahe Guru being your guide.

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On March 4th, 2014, Sikhs in Georgia were formally recognized at the State Capitol by the House of Representatives – colorful turbans were a common sight at the Capitol throughout that day. A resolution was introduced to recognize and celebrate the contributions of the Sikh community in Georgia and throughout the United States. Representative Karen Bennett, along with other members of the House of Representatives, led this initiative with great enthusiasm providing invaluable support to raising awareness about the Sikh community. This was the first time such a day had been recognized by Georgia!

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The battle for civil rights is a long one, and many minority communities in the United States have struggled to achieve justice.  What follows is a short timeline highlighting important markers in the Sikh American community’s efforts to secure equal opportunity in the U.S. military.

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