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Sikh Coalition US Army Accommodates Sikh Recruit: Breaking News!

Discussion in 'Sikh Organisations' started by spnadmin, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    [​IMG]
    Army Accommodates Sikh Recruit!
    Community Effort Leads to Major Step Forward in Ending Sikh Exclusion from the Army

    [​IMG]

    Thank You Sikh Community!

    Your Effort Ended 23 Years of Sikh Recruits Being Rejected by the Army
    While the Army Has Welcomed This Sikh, It Still Excludes All Other Sikhs
    (Washington D.C.) October 23, 2009

    The U. S. Army today accepted a Sikh recruit, Captain Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, who bravely refused to remove his dastaar or shave his hair as a condition of joining the military.


    For the first time in twenty-three years, the community's effort has persuaded the Army to make an exception to the rule barring Sikhs from military service in the United States.

    While the Sikh Coalition applauds the Army's action, it remains concerned that today's decision is an exemption to Army policy only for a single, individual Sikh. There has not yet been a change of the overall policy excluding Sikhs from service. The Coalition is encouraged, however, that the Army has expressed its willingness to review its general policy of excluding Sikhs from service in the coming months.

    Two Sikh men, Captain Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, a doctor, and Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan, a dentist, were recruited to join the Army's Health Professions Scholarship Program several years ago. Both maintained their turbans throughout the four year program, and appeared in uniform during specialized Army training, at Army ceremonies, and while working in military medical facilities.

    Nevertheless, after completing the program, they were told that they must remove their turbans and cut their unshorn hair and beards for active duty. Rather than abandon their Sikhi, they chose to appeal to Army leadership to end its policy of Sikh exclusion from service. Today, the Army accommodated Captain Kalsi and deferred a decision on Captain Rattan's appeal until he completes his dental certification.

    "I am overjoyed by the Army's decision to allow me to serve my country," said Captain Kalsi. "Like the many Sikhs who fought before me, I know I will serve America with honor and excellence. It is my hope that the Army will soon allow all Sikhs to serve along with me."

    Indeed a number of prominent Members of Congress have called on the Army to welcome all Sikhs, and not just Captain Kalsi, into the military. In August 2009, 43 members of the House of Representatives and 6 U.S. Senators called on Defense Secretary Robert Gates to allow all Sikhs to serve in the U.S. Army. These efforts were led by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in the Senate and Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in the House.

    [​IMG]"I am gratified that the Army has recognized Captain Kalsi's commitment to his faith and his desire to serve our nation in uniform," said Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen. "As our Army increasingly engages the world, our engagement is enhanced by having a military that reflects both America's and the world's diversity."

    Captain Kalsi and Captain Rattan are represented in their respective appeals by the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and the Sikh Coalition. McDermott filed the original appeals that brought the current matter before the U.S. Army and led to today's decision.

    "Throughout the past six months, we have steadfastly asserted that our clients' religious requirements in no way hinder their ability to effectively serve their country," said Amandeep S. Sidhu, McDermott's lead counsel on this case. "We are deeply impressed with the Army's forward-thinking approach in allowing Captain Kalsi to serve with his turban and beard, and we now call upon the Army to consider amendments to a uniform policy that continues to keep out other Sikh Americans from serving in the U.S. Army."

    Next Steps
    The Sikh Coalition will continue to engage the Army until the general policy of excluding Sikhs from service comes to a just and fitting end. While the case of Captain Kalsi has been successfully resolved, we continue to seek the accommodation of Captain Rattan and move forward in the campaign to end the Army's general policy excluding Sikhs from service.

    "We wholeheartedly applaud the Army's decision today," said Amardeep Singh, Program Director, Sikh Coalition. "Sikh inclusion in the Army not only helps our military understand the diverse faiths and cultures that make up America, but also the faiths and cultures where we send soldiers into harm's way. We look forward to the day when the Army welcomes all Sikhs, not just this young man, to serve."

    On the advocacy front, 43 Members of the United States House of Representatives and 6 United States Senators have already written to Defense Secretary Robert Gates requesting that the Army end its policy of excluding Sikhs from service. The Coalition will continue to build support in Congress for this campaign.

    The Coalition will also continue to garner positive media coverage on the matter. While major media outlets such as CNN.com, the Associated Press, and Washington Post have covered the issue, more can be done to raise public awareness. The Coalition will also encourage grassroots community members to sign petitions to the Army and write to their Members of Congress. Thus far, over 9,000 people have signed petitions to the Army or sent postcards to their Members of Congress on the issue. With the community's assistance, the Coalition hopes to significantly increase this number.

    Write to President Obama!
    "As a community, we stand united behind Captain Kalsi and Captain Rattan and their desire to serve freely without sacrificing their Sikhi," said Sapreet Kaur, Executive Director, Sikh Coalition. "We remain steadfast in our resolve to fight until the Army ends its irrational policy of discrimination against Sikhs. I call upon the community to strengthen its resolve to see this matter through until we have justice."

    A Thank You to Our Community Partners

    The Coalition would like to thank the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, and Amandeep Singh Sidhu, Esq., McDermott's lead attorney on the matter. In 2009 alone, McDermott attorneys have donated over $150,000 in pro bono legal services to the Sikh Coalition on this issue.

    The Coalition would also like to thank Representative Howard Berman (D-CA) and Jasmeet Kaur Ahuja on his staff for the countless hours they devoted to ensure a successful resolution of Captain Kalsi's matter.

    Several Sikh groups worked together to achieve this goal. The Coalition would like to thank the Sikh Council on Research and Education for the many hours it invested in outreach on Capital Hill, as well as the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund and United Sikhs. Finally the Coalition would like to thank the thousands of Sikhs who signed petitions to the Army's leadership and contacted their Members of Congress.

    Our collective efforts as a community have resulted in a major step forward in the campaign to end the exclusion of Sikhs from the military. We look forward to working together to bring about a complete end to the U.S. Army's bar on Sikh service. For now though, we celebrate the major step forward represented by Captain Kalsi's accommodation.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly. If you are barred from joining the military or any type of employment because of your Sikh faith, please report the incident at legal@sikhcoalition.org.

    To learn more, please visit our Campaign Media Center or email us at media@sikhcoalition.org.
     
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  3. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Thanks to US army

    USA as a country has shown the world that they are truly seculer ,not like France who wants to impose their version of secularism on people
     
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  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    kanwardeepsingh ji :happysingh:

    Thanks! We have seen cases where free expression of religion is not permitted in the US, as with teachers in the states of Oregon and Pennsylvania. But-- the way it works at the federal level here: To prevent free expression of religion, the government needs to show a "clear and compelling danger." For example, the safety and security of the public or the government would be placed at risk. My guess is that the federales realized that they did not have a case.

    There were 2 young men in similar circumstances when last I read about this case. Here only 1 is mentioned. Perhaps we will hear about the second recruit in a day or so.

    p/s - When the cases involving teachers go to court, the government will lose.
     
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  5. Mai Harinder Kaur

    Mai Harinder Kaur
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    While I have no love of the actions of the US Military in recent and not-so-recent years :AR15firing: , I see this as a freedom of religion issue and have been following it closely.

    I am glad that Captain Kalsi has won his case. and I hope and pray Captain Rattan will win his, as well. This, however, is a small victory. We really need to get the military to change its policy on this entirely. As I understand it, turbans and beards :happysingh: were allowed for Amritdhari Sikhs until the Reagan Administration.

    Just being practical, what kind of a stupid army would want to keep out Khalsa? :57: :doh:

    Chardi kala!
     
  6. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Bhagat Singh Thind

    [​IMG]
    Bhagat Singh Thind Bhagat Singh Thind (1892-1967) was born in Punjab and came to America in 1913. A year later, he was paying his way through the University of California at Berkeley by working in an Oregon lumber mill during summer vacations. When America entered World War I, he joined the U.S. Army. He was honorably discharged on 16th of December, 1918 and in 1920 applied for U.S. citizenship from the state of Oregon. Since several applicants from India had thus far been granted U.S. citizenship, he too was approved by the district court. However a naturalization examiner appealed this court's decision, and the rest is history.


    Feb 10, 1923: Justice Sutherland rules "Hindus" are "aliens ineligible to citizenship" in United States vs. Bhagat Singh Thind (261 US 204)
    What is less well-known is that Bhagat Singh Thind remained in the U.S., completed his Ph.D., and delivered lectures in metaphysics all across the nation. Basing his lessons on Sikh philosophy, he enriched his teaching with references to the scriptures of several religions and the work of Emerson, Whitman, and Thoreau. He campaigned actively for the independence of India from the British Empire, and helped Indian students in any way he could. In 1931, he married Vivian Davies and they had a son, David, to whom several of his 15 books are dedicated.


    "You must never be limited by external authority, whether it be vested in a church, man, or book. It is your right to question, challenge, and investigate."
    Ironically, Dr. Thind applied for and received U.S. citizenship through the state of New York within a few years of being turned down by the U.S. Supreme Court.



    [​IMG]
    Books by Bhagat S. Thind


    HOUSE OF HAPPINESS
    Based on lectures given in 1927, this book is a fine introduction to Dr. Thind's teachings. It is easily understood by and popular with young people, as well as more advanced students of Eastern religions. A few of the chapter titles are: How to Find Out What You Are Best Suited For; Evolution — Passing from Lower to Higher Births; Consciousness — An Inward Knowledge; Aum — The Sacred Hum of the Universe.



    "Appeal to the tradition of a nation, and the whole mob psychology is arrayed behind you. Let me appeal to the democratic spirit of the Americans, and they think I am just wonderful. Appeal to the spiritual nature of India, and you get all Hindus on your side."


    RADIANT ROAD TO REALITY
    Dr. Thind's disciples count this book as their teacher's greatest writing. It deals with enduring truths of spiritual import, verifiable facts of the highest human psychological possibilities. Dr. Thind reveals an exact science showing the seeker how to connect the individual soul with its Universal Creator. In the Preface, he writes: "It [this book] is for him who seeks to illumine his intelligence by the torch of his own Divinity, who hungers to attain the Consciousness, which transcends the barriers of time and space."



    [​IMG]
    From left: Dr. Amarjit S. Marwah, Mrs. Vivian Thind (Bhagat's widow), Mr. Ram Bagai, and Gwen Singh (widow of another Indian pioneer). SCIENCE OF UNION WITH GOD
    "The truest help one can render a man bent with the burdens of life, is to call out his best energies and efforts, so that he himself by himself may raise his sagging spirit, and not only cope with conditions, but come out triumphant in the highest spiritual sense of the word." This quotation from the Preface is an expression of what Dr. Thind hoped to accomplish with this book. Chapters include: Union with God; the Unknown Is in the Known; Ego vs. Individuality; Unification and Reunion; Sikh Religion Made Plain; The Song of the Soul Victorious.



    THE PEARL OF GREATEST PRICE
    "No scientific law can ever compare with the discovery of the Living Word of Power, which unifies man's whole being and makes him one in nature and character with his indwelling God." This is the theme developed by Dr. Thind in this book — an inspiring volume for all who seek to go ever onward, forward and Godward. Chapters include: Modus Operandi; Walking in the Inner Path to God; How Sat Guru Helps; Nature, Nurture and Nam; Overcoming the World.


    "The human mind is where everyone has to live and find his only opportunity for peace, happiness and wholeness. Only the unified mind can see things whole."
    — Bhagat S. Thind


    "There are many religions, but only one Morality, one Truth, and one God. The only Heaven is one of conscious life and fellowship with God."
    — Bhagat S. Thind
     
  7. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Col: Ajinderpal Singh Sekhon


    [​IMG]
    Colonel Arjinderpal Singh Sekhon aka 'A.J.'Sekhon is a Yuba City physician, U.S. Army doctor and 2004 Democratic candidate for the US House of Representatives in California's 2nd district.
    Born January 20th 1949, Sekhon currently lives in Yuba City, California.
    He attended Medical College Amritsar, India in 1971 where he earned a medical degree, the US Air Force War College, Air University, in 1979, and the University of Northern California where he earned a Justice Degree.
    He is a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve's 36th Civil Affairs Brigade and has otherwise been self-employed as a medical doctor since 1979.
    Sekhon has a framed photograph in his office from 1984, when he joined the Army. He's wearing camouflage and boots, holding a machine gun. And wearing his turban and beard. Sekhon, who served in combat hospitals during both Iraq conflicts finds it ironic that America, settled by people seeking religious freedom, is denying it to Sikh men who want both to serve their country and to remain true to their faith. He said asking them to shave amounts to forced conversion.
    "Forcing a Sikh to shave - then he's a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian," he said. "Congress is supposed to pass no law promoting one religion; here they are promoting three."

     
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  8. Mai Harinder Kaur

    Mai Harinder Kaur
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    An irrelevant Maya-ish comment.

    Damned, we're good-looking

    :happysingh:
     
  9. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Yes -- each one is a dreamboat :happysingh:
     

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