US Soldiers of the Sikh Faith

July 24, 2009

During this week of meetings with various Congressional offices and staff in DC, one of the questions we heard over and over again was “Won’t allowing their turbans and beards affect the performance of these men?” Our answer was simple: absolutely not. How could we be so sure? Not only because of the thousands of Sikhs serving with armies overseas, but because of the dozens who have already served the United States here at home.

Watch this video for a brief look at the legacy of Sikh service in the US military. These brave men have paved the way and given us the evidence to support the battle that Captains Kalsi and Rattan are waging for the Sikh American community today.

May God Bless them all!


Knock! Knock! Who’s There?

July 22, 2009

The Sikh Coalition. The Sikh Coalition Who? The Sikh Coalition is a civil rights advocacy and educational non-profit group currently representing, in partner with McDermott WIll and Emory LLP, Captains Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi and Tejdeep Singh Rattan…

Not a very funny joke, I’ll admit, but I gave this speech an innumerable amount of times as I meandered the halls of Congress this week in Washington, DC. My goal – alongside a dozen colleagues from the Coalition and volunteers who defiantly braved the unbearable DC heat – to lobby in support of a general congressional sign-on letter. To date, approximately 10 Congressional representatives have taken a firm stance and exclaimed, through their commitment to civil rights, that those Americans who wish to heroically serve their country while simultaneously keeping in accord with their faith need not chose between the two. Rather, this letter and those representatives who sign-on stand for a cause which will effect not only Sikhs, but Muslims, Jews, and any other individual or group who wish to adhere to the tenets of their faith and honorably protect the freedoms that we, as an American community, enjoy daily.

The exercise of browsing the House office buildings, making connections with legislative staffers and the interns who serve as the media through which we gain those meetings and phone calls, is no easy task. It’s a lot of leg work. And let me tell you, my legs are tired. However, as one of the few individuals participating in a grassroots effort to effectuate change for my community and beyond, it’s quite exhilarating. The thought of leaving my impression on history through the direct actions I take today requires a few moments to grasp, but when this concept does take hold, it fervently invigorates my legs to push on to the next door and advocate for a cause I know is worthwhile.

In all honesty, if I take a mental step back from this exercise, I realize that what I’m doing is not so difficult after all. All that is required is dedication. Dedication to civil rights, dedication to community, and dedication to Seva (selfless service). If a few individuals can wander the halls of Congress and make a paramount change, just think of what 50, or 100, or 1000 bodies could accomplish. The possibilites are limitless. However, as each community must, the Sikh community is currently in the process of growing pains. Without those bodies to help lobby for the causes which affect us, both directly and indirectly, those growing pains will remain present and we cannot mature into the community of leaders we were born to become. It is through dedication to campaigns such as this where the Sikh community can flourish and blaze a trail for our future generations to follow and to continue on their own.

Overall, this experience was great. Our efforts are not without reward. But most importantly, our efforts are not without a lesson: only through dedication to the cause can our community mature and meet its goals.

This post was authored by Aman Singh, a Sikh Coalition legal intern this summer.


Meeting with Senate Armed Services Committee

April 14, 2009
We just the left the meeting with the Senate Armed Services Committee, accompanied by Captain Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, a doctor, and Second Lieutenant Tejdeep Singh Rattan. Also present were our pro bono co-counsel on the matter from McDermott Will & Emery. We met with staffers from Senator Levin (D-MI) & McCain’s (R-AZ) offices and are now heading to a meeting with Senator Durbin’s office.
Another group of Sikh volunteers came to visit: Senators Gillibrand (D- NY) Senators Lautenberg (D-NJ) & Menendez (D-NJ) Voinovich (R-OH) & Brown (D-OH).

A crowd gathers

April 14, 2009

Sikh Coalition Army Press Conference, Iwo Jima Memorial, Washington, DC

9:45 a.m. est, Monday April 14, 2009

Very soon, we’ll begin the news conference. The stage is set. Curious tourists and students inquire about the event, significance of the turban and more generally about Sikhi.


Second Lieutenant Tejdeep Singh Rattan

April 13, 2009

tejdeepSikh Coalition Army Campaign Fundraiser, White Tiger Restaurant, Washington, DC

9:30 p.m., Monday April 13, 2009

He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to serve in the military but was confident because of Captain Kalsi’s leadership. ‘We need to stop this discrimination so our community can take advantage of this opportunity.’

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If you would like to financially support the Coalition’s work this Vaisakhi, go to:   http://www.sikhcoalition.org/donate.asp.


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