15th Year Commemoration of Balbir S. Sodhi

Every year since then, on September 15, his family including his wife, children and brothers as well as local Sikh Commu...

 

15th Year Commemoration of S. Balbir Singh Sodhi

Dr. Jaswant Singh Sachdev, M.D., F.A.A.N

Phoenix, Arizona

On September 15, 2001, exactly four days after the horrific tragedy of 9/11, S. Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh owner of a Gas Station in Mesa, Arizona was gunned down by Frank Silva Roque. While pumping bullets in his back, Frank mentioned that he hates people who attacked United States, not realizing that Balbir Singh was a Sikh from India with an independent faith and culture. He had nothing in common with the culprits of that horrendous crime except that he had a turban on uncut hair and beard on his face, a requirement of his Sikh faith.


Every year since then, on September 15, his family including his wife, children and brothers as well as local Sikh Community has been commemorating him at a memorial built exactly at the spot he was gunned down right in front of his gas station at 7956 E. University in Mesa Arizona. This year, as it happened to be Balbir Singh Sodhi’s 15
th Anniversary, it was felt that this should be done in a bigger way.

Almost about 150-200 people gathered in front of the gas station and a very solemn ceremony started with Rehras Sahib followed by Ardas by the Ragis Jetha of Gurdwara Sahib, Guru Nanak Dwara. Valarie Kaur a young Sikh activist, a graduate from Stanford, Harvard and Yale and a movie maker who from day one stood for Balbir Singh and cause of Sikh identity and also for other victims of hate crimes and minorities specially flew in to speak about Balbir Singh. Her heart wrenching speech interfacing with thoughts from Kerry of NY, the daughter of a Lieutenant fire fighter killed at Ground Zero while saving others was something that made everyone cry in the audience. Arizona Inter Faith leader Reverend Larry Fultz spoke graciously and so did Maanik Singh Chotalla, a young budding Sikh boy. The speeches were followed by lighting candles and offering a rose by each and everyone in attendance. And finally before dispersing, all were asked to partake community vegetarian dinner so graciously offered and served by family of S. Balbir Singh.

Add a Comment