Narang, a second lieutenant, will complete her basic officer leadership course at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, following which she will head to her first posting in Okinawa, Japan in January of 2021. “I am excited and honoured to be fulfilling my dream of graduating from West Point tomorrow,” said Narang who is inspired by her maternal grandfather who had a career in the Indian army.
“The confidence and support of my community back home in Georgia has been deeply meaningful to me, and I am humbled that in reaching this goal, I am showing other Sikh Americans that any career path is possible for anyone willing to rise to the challenge,” she said.
After a gradually growing interest in military service during high school, Narang began her application for West Point after her family visited Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Honolulu, Hawai’i. She attended one year of undergraduate study at the Georgia Institute of Technology before transferring to West Point, where she proceeded to study nuclear engineering and pursue a career path in air defense systems.
In 1987, US Congress passed a law that prohibited Sikhs and several other religious communities from maintaining their articles of faith while in the military, despite a history of diverse service and simple accommodations. For 30 years, the visible Sikh articles of faith--including unshorn facial hair and turbans--were banned, despite being core tenets of the faith. In response, for more than 10 years, the Sikh Coalition, an organisation representing American Sikhs, has led a campaign, in partnership with other Sikh and civil rights organizations, litigation partners, and like-minded advocates, to ensure equality of opportunity for Sikhs Americans in the US armed forces.
“I am immensely proud of 2LT Narang for seeing her goal through and, in doing so, breaking a barrier for any Sikh American who wishes to serve,” said U.S. Army Captain Simratpal Singh, a family friend of Narang. “The broader acceptance of Sikh service members among all of the service branches, as well as in top tier leadership spaces like West Point, will continue to benefit not just the rights of religious minority individuals, but the strength and diversity of the U.S. military.”
Singh’s 2016 law suit over his own right to maintain his articles of faith in uniform spurred a critical change in the US army’s policy in 2017, which streamlined the process for Sikh soldiers. In 2020, after granting a series of individual accommodations to Sikh airmen throughout the year prior, the US Air Force implemented a similarly updated policy. Since the US army and the air force changed their policies, there are at least 60 Sikhs serving in those two branches of the military.
Read More News on
2 Comments on this Story
Anil 226 days ago
Best wishes. Cadet to Commission is solders dream. U have just got ur shoes and hats and now look ahead
Narasimhan Bangalore228 days ago
Great achievement from a brave girl. Bow my head and appreciate the country which accommodated her. Proud tradition from a patriot NRI!