Originally Published BY Ajit Singh on the Windsor Star
The Remembrance Day certainly brings heroic memories of sacrifices, patriotism and dedication of the Sikh soldiers and Canadian soldiers who fought together at Flanders, France, during the 14 months of war against the Imperial Germany Army. Nobody could believe till the beginning of the current millennium that Sikhs fought for Canada in First World War. A chance discovery of soldier Buckam Singh’s victory medal has put the forgotten tale of nine Sikh warriors in limelight.
Canada has officially recognized the contribution of the Sikhs in defence. Canadians have started remembering their First World War heroes on National Remembrance Day.
Britain decorated four Sikh Regiment Second World War veterans with the” Jewel of Punjab” award for their patriotism, dedication and loyalty to the Crown. In the last two world wars, 83005 turbaned Sikh soldiers were killed and 109,045 were wounded. Sikh soldiers won 21 Victoria Cross medals during the wars. In the words of General Sir Frank Messervy of the British Army, no glory can transcend the supreme sacrifices of the Sikh soldiers, they died enduring shell fire with no other protection but the turban, the symbol of their faith.
Ironically, the Royal Canadian Legion bars the turbaned Sikh entry to its building when turbaned Sikhs by now form an integral part of the Canadian society. The question that needs to be posed is why with popular visible Sikh MPs and Sikh soldiers in the Canadian Army wearing turbans instead of helmets, the legion has not understood that for the Sikh a turban is not just a headgear but an integral part of the Sikh’s personality, psyche and religion itself.
What is required is greater sensitivity by the legion to the sensibilities of the Sikhs for whom social justice is as vital as economic justice.
AJIT SINGH, Windsor