From Kevin Crowe of the Journal Sentinel
WISCONSIN: Hundreds of people packed the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek Sunday to remember the victims of the shooting there one year ago that took six lives.
And while the reminders of the horror of that day were everywhere — in the six flags bearing the victims’ names and faces in front of the temple, in their framed pictures in the entryway and in the six colored roses amid vases of white roses lining the center aisle — the mood was one of positive remembrance and optimism.
Among the hundreds in attendance were Sikhs from across North America and India. Gagan Brar and three friends traveled from Toronto for the weekend to attend the memorial and to support their fellow Sikhs.
“It’s shocking and eye-opening, and it’s a deep wound,” Brar said. “We’re a tight-knit community.”
Still, he said, there was a lot of positive energy in the community.
“I feel a lot of resilience,” Brar said. “You feel a lot of love around here.”
That resilience is especially present in the young people of the community, said Pardeep Kaleka.
Kaleka’s father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, was the temple president and died trying to stop gunman Wade Michael Page as he attacked worshippers one year ago.
“A lot of people get hurt by something like this,” he said. “But a million good things come from it.”
Kaleka said he sees the energy in the young members of the Sikh community as one of those things.
“I think they have a personal vendetta for peace,” he said. “I think they see a bigger calling.”
Also in attendance were political figures including Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.).
Toward the end of the service, Walker addressed the crowd, telling them how he often remembers a vigil he attended in Oak Creek in the days after the shooting and how he was affected by the Sikh community’s strength and concern for others.
“This very easily could have been a day that was reflected on in horror,” he said. “Instead of seeing hatred, I saw love.”
“You’ve shown the people people of this community and this world that love can triumph,” Walker continued.
Moore echoed that sentiment as she talked about Sikh beliefs in universal brotherhood, love and peace.
“It’s so oxymoronic that (the shooting) would happen here, given their tenets,” Moore said after the service.
One of the young people reflecting on the future of the temple was Amanpreet Sekhon, who was supposed to be in attendance on the day of the shooting but was running late. On Sunday, she worked a table selling wristbands that read, “Chardi Kala — Relentless Optimism — We are One.”
Some of the shirts Sekhon, 19, was selling were from the 6K run and walk the group hosted Saturday at Oak Creek High School to remember the victims.
“We’re trying to bring the community together,” she said. “Everyone here knows each other. It’s a family.”
But amid the positivity, the hugs, the kisses and the community meal, there was still some sadness. Those who died left behind families and friends.
“Today and tomorrow will be a closing and moving on, I think,” Kaleka said. (Courtesy Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel)
Click HERE for pictures of the 6K run in Oak Creek