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US post office named after Indian

For the first time in US history, a Govt building has been named after an Asian American, writes Gurmukh Singh.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2006 21:44 IST

February 21, 2006 will go down as golden-letter day in the history of Indian-Americans.

US government will formally name a post office in Southern California after the first Asian Congressman Dalip Singh Saund.

This is the first time in the history of the US that a government building has been named after any Asian American.

Hailing from a village near Amritsar, Saund was elected to the US Congress thrice from 1956 to 1962.

The post office, to be named after Saund, falls in his congressional district in the Riverside and Imperial counties of Southern California. Situated on Rancho California Road in the city of Temecula, the post office will henceforth be called Dalip Singh Saund Post Office Building.

At the prompting of the Indian-American community, the sitting Congressman Darrell Issa, who represents the 49th district in the US House of Representatives, had introduced a bill in the US Congress to honor Saund by renaming the city's main post office after him.

Congress passed the bill last year and President George Bush signed it into a law on July 21, 2005.

Yet another bill has been passed by Congress to install a portrait of Saund in the Capitol building in Washington. This bill, called H. Res 753, was introduced by another Congressman Joe Wilson.

The two Congressmen had undertaken the initiative to honor Saund after the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, the Indian-American Friendship Council and the Global Punjabi Diaspora had organised a seminar in Los Angeles in January 2002 to mark the 45th anniversary of the first election victory of Saund.

"The day-long seminar, which was attended high-ranking Indian Americans, including Maryland assemblyman Kumar Barve, Minnesota state senator Satveer Chaudhury, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner Joy Cherian, and former British Columbian premier Ujjal Dosanjh, set the ball rolling. This was followed by a spate of seminars in the US. At the behest the Indian-Americans, the two Congressmen took the initiative to honor the late Congressman. While Congressman Issa moved the bill to name the post after Saund, Congressman Joe Wilson introduced a bill for installing a portrait of him in the Capitol Hill building,'' says GOPIO president Inder Singh who will speak about the life and times of Saund at Tuesday's function.

The naming ceremony will be presided over by Congressman Issa. It will be attended by Temecula mayor Ron Roberts, former El Centro mayor David Dhillon (an Indian-American) and many prominent Indian-Americans from Los Angeles and Riverside Counties.