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Indiana Interchurch Center, Indianapolis, Indiana USA

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, Sep 11, 2012
Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh

The entire Nation observed the eleventh anniversary of September 11, 2001, a very dark day in U.S. history; the images are permanently seared in the minds, hearts, and conscience of all Americans and millions around the world.  In so many ways, this horrific assault on American soil that resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people of many faiths, cultures, and nationalities changed the world.  Terrorism took on an ominous new dimension that continues to send shockwaves throughout the civilized world.  Many more lives have been lost in the aftermath and in the American and global response to end this menace of terrorism.

This year’s memorial observances, solemn ceremonies, and prayerful reflections honored those who died.  Many communities and groups participated in service projects to observe the anniversary and pay tribute by doing something special in their communities.

One such beautiful Memorial Service combined elements of prayer and reflection, fellowship and sharing, and learning about the Sikh American community who have been victims of mistaken identity and unprovoked violence since September 11, 2001.  This was an extraordinary show of support and solidarity to the idea that we must all work together to end the unconscionable hate, continued incidents of unprovoked violence and unfounded stereotyping of fellow Americans simply based on their physical appearance and faith-mandated sacred articles of faith.

This was the brilliant idea of Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith, a spiritual leader and the President of the Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis.  The Memorial Service was sponsored by The Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis, The Jewish Community Relations Council, The Center for Interfaith Cooperation, and The Muslim Alliance of Indiana.  The Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis organized a mini display about the Sikhs, arranged a North Indian vegetarian lunch (donated by India Palace-Shalimar), and participated in the Memorial Service.  The event was coordinated by Mr. Charlie Wiles, Executive Director of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation.


The setting for this memorial event was the Interchurch Center Garden.  The day was sunny, the sky was deep blue, and people from many ethnic and faith traditions gathered in a circle to hear testimony and prayers from representatives of many faith traditions.  Following the welcome and opening remarks of Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith, thoughts and reflections about September 11, 2001 were offered by: KP Singh, Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis; Dean Phelps, Christian Church-Disciples of Christ; Maria Pimentel-Gannon, The Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis; Rev. Felipe Martinez, Whitewater Valley Presbytery; Bishop Catherine Waynick, Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis; Ms. Faryal Khatri, BRIDGE Generation; Lindsey Mintz, Jewish Community Relations Council; Charlie Wiles, Center for Interfaith Cooperation; Pastor Mark Powell, Great Harvest Lutheran Church, and Mr. Mel Joliff, Indiana Interchurch Center.

There were silent prayers and reflections; a beautiful unison prayer; and the singing of the celebrated prayer (Jill Jackson/Mark Miller - circa 1955): “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”  It seemed as if the prayers and reflections were lifted upwards and mingled with all other prayers from solemn remembrance ceremonies of this day.


Following the Benediction by Rev. Dr. Walker-Smith, the guests moved inside to the Dining Room for a simple vegetarian lunch.  It had the aura of a Langar Hall in a Sikh Temple:
With their heads covered by orange patkas, provided by The Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis, many of the guests sat on the carpeted floor.  Throughout the lunch, the photo-slides of the Sikhs killed recently at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin were projected on a screen as a reminder of a crime inspired by hate and ignorance.  Maninder Walia, President Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis, Jesse Lalli, Trustee and Past President, KP Singh offered a reflection from a Sikh perspective and foundations of Sikh faith culture, and community.  Many guests visited the display, coordinated by Janice Singh, of Sikh literature, Sikh sacred symbols, and educational posters that highlighted Sikh history, contributions, and civic engagements in Indiana.


As Sikh Americans, we were deeply moved by this thoughtful gesture to share a little of the Sikh experience with the guests.  Integrating the Sikh experiences since 9/11 was a symbolic affirmation that we are all God’s Children who deserve to be respected, and together we can build One America that is safe and holds unbound promise and responsibilities for all citizens.  The spirit of unity and friendship that radiated throughout the Memorial Observance is likely to lead to other positive relationships and cooperative endeavors in the years to come.  This spirit is another worthy tribute to those we lost on September 11, 2001 and to all families who continue to suffer the indescribable loss of their loved ones.  In time, we have begun to see them as our own family, their hurt and anguish as our own.  Our prayers go to each of them and to our great Nation to prosper in peace as One Nation where there are no strangers, those who come in peace and willing to serve and help “Build a more Perfect Union.”  We dedicate this day to that prayer, hope, and personal pledge.

Indianapolis, Indiana USA  <> <> September 11, 2012




We pause for a solemn remembrance:
On this eleventh anniversary
Of the horrific attack and deaths of
Nearly 3,000 of our fellow human beings
From many faiths, cultures, and nationalities;

We also solemnly remember:
Thousands who since have fallen victims
To international terrorism,
In the wars to combat terrorism,
In other conflicts and crimes against humanity,
Millions more who continue to suffer all across the world;

Eternally Compassionate and Benevolent Father of All Creation:
We offer our prayers to all who mourn and suffer;
Seek Your guidance
In making Your Earth, Your Infinite Universe
“An Island of Hope, a Cosmic Cathedral of Peace,”
A sacred landscape, a welcome home
For peaceful coexistence;
A global village of abundant blessings
A crossroads of creativity, amazing new frontier of promise

Where we discover and honor goodness in each other,
Serve to make a difference;
Life, Freedom, Justice, and Dignity
Build peace among faiths, cultures, and communities;

Wonderful Lord:
With Your Benevolent Presence,
Sacred Commandments and Guidance,
Wisdom that teaches us right from wrong,
Putting our mind and Spirit to work,
This long-awaited prayer can become a reality.
All is possible,
The undreamed-offs become manifest before us.

Lead our heart and vision, our labors and entrusted gifts
Where we focus on our cherished collective promise,
Words of Your Messenger Nanak become a Universal Anthem:
“Guided by a Spirit of Churdhikala (eternal optimism),
In Your Name, by Your Grace
May there be peace and goodwill among all people
(diverse cultures, faith communities, and nations)
Everywhere across the entire human universe.”
We pray that: standing in solidarity,
Walking in a unifying spirit and humility,
We welcome Your unfolding friendly horizons in each new day.

Indianapolis, Indiana USA <> <> September 11, 2012