WASHINGTON: Sikhs joined hundreds of people in the national vigil against gun violence on the eve of the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown in which 20 students and six teachers were killed exactly a year ago on Nov 14.
Church bells rang for three minutes to honor the 30,000 people killed by gun the past year as multi-faith leaders prayed for an end to the violence.
“We gather to say ‘No more,'” said the Rev. Mel Kawakami, senior minister of Newtown United Methodist Church and one of the conveners of the service.
“America must not allow these kinds of massacres … to take place,” said Dr. Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education. “Only then can we call this nation a perfect union.”
Citing hymns of Baba Farid and Guru Amardas, he said, “Each life is important and should not be harmed…Killings in Newtown, Oak Creek and Aurora remind us that we have a major task in our hands to make America safer for all. We also pray that our leaders understand that they have a responsibility to create safety for all children born and yet to be born in the nation.”
Bhai Gurdarshan Singh, Granthi of the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation said, “Tonight’s prayer and reflection is inspiring everyone to make a commitment to change America’s direction. Senseless killings must be stopped.”
Sikh children put up posters with faces of victims of Sandy Hook and Oak Creek Sikh Temple shootings.
“It’s great to know that so many people are there for others during this difficult time today,’’ said Harleen Kaur, 11.
“It was an amazing experience, it felt great to see all the support everyone had for each other, i felt extremely inspired and thankful after this service,’’ added Ramleen Kaur,15.
“It was unreal seeing people that are so directly affected by the countless incidents of gun violence. I could feel the love in the room and everyone in the audience could feel the pain of the speakers. Seeing other kids like me, motivated me even more to put an end to this violence,’’ said Hana Kaur, 13.
Bhai Sucha Singh, Dr. Harminder Kaur Mangat, Keerat Singh (14) and Sidak (12) of of the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation also joined in the vigil.