On Sunday, August 5, a gunman tore into the Sikh Gudwrara in Oak Creek, turning that temple, and the lives of community members within it, upside down. Six people were killed and others wounded, some severely. There’s no explanation for why that gunman did what he did. But what we do know is this: this horrible tragedy has revealed the courageous story of the Sikh community, and it reminds us that their story is an American story.
Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama visited with the Sikh American families affected by the tragedy in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. It was a time for condolences and for healing, and a day that the First Lady and the families of the victims will never forget.
As she hugged grieving husbands and wives, comforted granddaughters and grandsons, and embraced sons and daughters, the First Lady lifted up the Sikh American story yesterday. She not only expressed her condolences but also underscored how strong those who died were, and how strong the Sikh community continues to be. Since the first Sikhs arrived at Angel Island in California almost 100 years ago, they have been woven into the fabric of our country. Doctors, artists and lawyers, politicians and priests, Sikh Americans have strengthened the United States in innumerable ways. The First Lady expressed her pride in the community yesterday, and looked into the eyes of the children in the room and said that she expects them to achieve ever greater things as well.
The First Lady also greeted the family of Oak Creek Police Lt. Brian Murphy, who was shot and injured while defending the temple. So many folks thank her for visiting and commented about how much her visit meant to the community. But Mrs. Obama simply said in reply, “No – I’m the one that’s honored to be here. This means so much to me.”