John Barnhart, Maninder Singh, Kavneet Singh and Amandeep Singh at the ASC Sikh Exhibit
The American Sikh Council (ASC) led and participated at the American Legion Convention held in downtown Indianapolis, IN from August 23 – 27, 2019. This conference was held at the Indianapolis Convention Center where over 10,000 veterans from across the nation participated. Volunteers from Indiana Sikh Society and others associated with them stepped up to make the five long day exhibit a great success.
There were over 120 booths exhibiting various products and services with many non-profits, but mostly geared to the veterans.
Kavneet Singh with a veteran at the Sikh exhibit
The Sikh exhibit was not only unique but stood out and garnered quite a bit of attention. The ASC exhibit was focused on the hundreds of thousands of (Sikh) veterans who served in World War I and II. The exceptional history of Sikh veterans is completely missing from the ‘war stories and war history in America’!. ASC has worked for the last few years to change the current narrative and start making an impact on the national conscience, so that not just all veterans but the public at large must be aware of the phenomenal contributions made by the ‘turbaned Sikhs’ over the last 100+ years towards true freedom, peace and liberty in the (West) free world.
Maninder Singh, Amandeep Singh, Sundeep Singh and Kavneet Singh with veterans
Maninder Singh, Ripamdeep Singh, Harpal Singh, Sundeep Singh, Darshdeep Singh, Dr.Prabhjot Singh, and Kavneet Singh interacted, discussed and disseminated literature to the veterans for five days. All the volunteers answered questions, while conversing on various issues from bullying to our history in America, while giving them multiple brochures about the, ‘Bullying of Sikh American Children’, ‘History of Sikh Americans’, ‘Sikhs and Scouts’, ’The Sikh Turban’, ‘Sustained Sikh Genocide 1984-1998’, ‘The Battle of Saragarhi’, ‘Sikhs in World Wars’. Additionally, several academic books about the Sikhs defending Europe and helping the Allies to win the two great World Wars were also displayed.
The direct face to face conversations with most of the veterans was an extremely effective way to educate them about the Sikh valor, our values, how they fit perfectly with the US constitution.
Ripamdeep Singh greeting a veteran, with Dr.Harpal Singh looking on at the ASC exhibit
Over the course of the five days, all the volunteers interacted with hundreds of veterans, gave out brochures and created a buzz that was observed by thousands of attendees. Some stopped by at the booth to share their sorrow about the massacre in August 2012 at the Oak Creek Gurdwara in Wisconsin where six innocent Sikh Americans were shot and many injured. Others mentioned their positive interaction with Sikhs elsewhere. But most had sparing or no knowledge at all about the enormous Sikh participation in the many wars in the past 100 plus years. Sikhs have even participated and fought in the US Civil War of 1861-1865. Many commented on the large posters with photographs of Sikhs in the World Wars at the ASC exhibit and were in awe of the scale of sacrifices made by Sikh soldiers to defend Europe and freedom, which came at an incredible cost of over 83,000 killed and over 109,000 wounded.
The Sikh exhibit was the topic of many evening conversations through the course of the event. Kavneet Singh was invited and met with many veterans after exhibit hours to talk and hold conversations with veterans from across the nation.
American Sikh Council’s exhibit drew a lot of attention in the convention. John Barnhart commented, “This was a long time coming and it is really important that you continue your participation to change the misconceptions of Sikh Americans by many of us at this event. Thank you for being here!”
Kavneet Singh and Amandeep Singh with veteran
Some of the veterans happily took pictures to post on social media reaching thousands across the country!
The American Sikh Council (ASC) continues to collaborate with any entity which is connected to veterans, education, school children and protecting them while making sure that educating the educators continues in a positive and wholesome manner for a better tomorrow for all of us.
ASC’s continued grassroots work was a resounding success, and in order to sustain this ongoing effort ASC requests all the gurdwaras to step up and support the ongoing nationwide ASC initiatives to truly make a better tomorrow for our Sikh American children so that they walk tall in their dastars and be comfortable in their ‘Guru’ given identity.