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US rallies around its Sikhs

It was important for Jenny Gordon to attend the candle-light vigil.

world Updated: Aug 10, 2012 00:44 IST
Yashwant Raj

It was important for Jenny Gordon to attend the candle-light vigil. She reached the grassy knoll, across the road from a raucous house school party under way, hours ahead of time — even though she is elderly, and unable to walk much.

“This was really important for me,” she said, adding, “As a believer and a person who cares, I couldn’t believe something like this could happen.”

As the sun set and the school party ended, people began streaming in, collecting candles and head scarves from volunteers. They were familiar with the candle but not the head scarf. Most people put it on, helped by Sikh volunteers.

Emily Bradley, a Chicago reporter, had googled it before setting off. “I didn’t want to do anything that could upset anyone,” she said, the scarf tightly held by a small knot at the back.

The larger community, as the rest of the country, is getting to know about Sikhism. Strangers in Miwaukee walk up to Sikh community members and Indians, to talk about the tragedy, and, without saying so, somehow try to make up for it.

It were as if the entire community somehow felt responsible for Wade Michael Page, the white supremacist shooter.

“I wish he had stayed alive to tell us why he did this,” said a man at a Starbucks cafe in downtown Milwaukee.

Sometimes, people just walk up, grip your hand in a tight handshake, shake their heads and move on.