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Oak Creek Sikh Temple shooting, 10 years later vigil remembers lives lost

Sikh temple vigil
Posted at 10:03 PM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-06 00:00:43-04

OAK CREEK, Wis. — It's a day that won't be forgotten and a tragedy all wish never happened.

Pardeep Kaleka, the son of one of the victims of the 2012 Oak Creek Sikh Temple shooting, said, "We all know where we were on August 5, 2012."

Rucha Kaur with the Sikh Coalition said the Sikh community remembers the day the way most Americans remember where they were on 9/11.

"Just shock. We think of the Gurdwara as a safe space, like most folks think of houses of worship as safe spaces," Kaur recalled of the tragic day.

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It's now been a decade since a white supremacist opened fire on the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. It remains one of the deadliest attacks on a place of worship in the country and is the deadliest attack on the Sikh community in this country. Seven people were killed and several others were severely injured.

On the 10-year anniversary, the Sikh community, the Oak Creek community, the state and so many more came together to remember the lives lost.

Vigil for Sikh Temple victims

"We really hope that folks remember Oak Creek. That they remember what happened here. That they honor those that we lost, but that they're also taking action in their own communities," Rucha Kaur said.

The day and the legacy of the lives lost have inspired change, but those in the community say there's still more to be done.

"This was the first of many attacks on houses of worship in the years that have followed, and it continues to happen where marginalized communities and minority communities continue to be targeted. It's really important for folks to come together and raise their voices," Rucha Kaur said.

Faith leaders from different religions were in attendance as well as several elected officials, including the governor and representatives from the White House.

But the focus remained on the families who were able to share their thoughts and feelings surrounding that day.

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Here's some of what they shared:

"I'm hurting every single day. Every single day I'm reminded of the tragedy." -Kamal Kaur

"I was here and my dad saved my life." -Palmeet Kaur

"I showed up every Sunday just because it made her happy." -Kamal Saini

"He's gone. I can't call him no more." -Gurvinder Singh

"It resonated with every single Sikh, and that had an exponential effect." -Pardeep Kaleka

"He was very strong-willed, passionate about religion." -Sandeep Khattra

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