Dayton, Ohio, June 3, 2019 (Yes Punjab News)
Thousands of people gathered, lined up on the sidewalks of the streets, outside their resident homes and parks to watch the 2019 Springfield, Ohio Memorial Day Parade. This year, a group of about 100 Sikh Americans from Springfield, Dayton, Cincinnati and neighboring areas participated in the parade remembering and honoring Sikh and American soldiers of all Wars with a float of their own.
The two hour and two-mile long parade marched through downtown with as many as 3000 participants in attendance and a gathering of about 30-35000 spectators along the route to watch the parade. Over 100 groups and close to 300 cars made their way to the city, making it the biggest parade in the city’s history.
Every year, Springfield resident Avtar Singh and family along with members of Sikh Community participate in the parade. Avtar Singh and Sarabjit Kaur says, “We along with our family participated in the Parade representing Sikh American for the first time in 1999 to honor and remember the soldiers who died while serving in armed forces. We are very happy that the number of Sikh community members who attend the parade is growing. Due to the tragic incident of 9/11, Sikhs have been the target of hate crimes due to mistaken identity, hence, it is now more important for Sikh Americans to participate in such events and reach out to the community.
Sameep Singh Gumtala, a social activist and Convener of FlyAmritsar Initiative from neighboring city of Dayton says, “I have been part of this parade for the past 9 years along with my children, who every year are very excited to participate and walk down the street. Hosting a float at the parade is also an opportunity to educate people about the contribution of Sikhs in World Wars. We take pride in our country by supporting our troops, remembering the people that have fallen for us, went to war for us and fought for our country.”
Sikhs have lived in USA for more than 100 years with many arriving in the late 1800s. They have made many contributions to this nation including construction, farming land, hospitality, education and serving in the military. Still majority of Americans cannot even accurately identify a Sikh and do not know about the Sikh tradition. According to British General Sir Frank Messervy “In the last two World Wars, 83005 turban wearing Sikh soldiers were killed and 109,045 were wounded for the freedom of Britain and the World. During shell fire they had no other protection but the turban, the symbol of their faith.”