Arlington, Virginia, July 07, 2004
On June 3, 2004, the official letter of approval cameonly five
months after the burial ceremony took place at the Arlington
National Cemetery. At the burial ceremony, a Liaison Officer
asked the family about selecting a religious symbol for the
headstone. Because the Khanda was not an approved symbol
at the time, the family asked Gurdarshan Singh, a local granthee
who performed the last rights, to write an official letter to
request a Khanda.Udays father, Preet Mahinder Singh, received
word from the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) that it
could not be done after ten days.
Uday Singh, 21, was killed on December 1, 2003, in Habbaniyah,
Iraq. He died of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked
his patrol. It was a single bullet that found its way into Uday
Singhs head, just missing his helmet
It was fate, says his grieving father. He
was my only son. Uday Singh never wanted to come to America.
He was quite happy living a life of luxury in Chandigarh, India,
says his father. But I wanted him to do something meaningful.
They considered going abroad and settled on Lake Forest, Illinois,
where his aunt, Harpreet Datt, lived. After finishing high school,
Uday Singh came to Lake Forest with his father in 2000. We
got out of the airport and there was a sign posted to join the
military, recalls his father. And that is what Uday Singh
Preet Mahinder Singh came to the U.S. a couple of weeks later
to finish his sons affairs and to visit him at the cemetery.
It is a great thing for our community. Back home, we dont
bother about these things. Here, there is more attachment to
our roots, he says. Preet Mahinder says the Sikh community
was very supportive and helpful in his time of need.
When Preet Mahinder Singh and his only daughter, Bani, came
to pay their respects. They kneeled down on the green grass
and stroked, with love and tears, the only crisp white headstone
adorned with a majestic Khanda at Arlington National Cemetery.