PALATINE,IL- Today Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn saluted fallen soldier Sergeant Uday Singh of Lake Forest, IL, the first Indian American killed in the war in Iraq at a memorial service held at the Sikh Religious Society of Chicago’s Gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship.
“Both the United States and India mourn the loss of hero Sergeant Uday Singh,” said Quinn. “It is an honor to recognize this courageous young soldier who tragically died while fighting the war against terrorism.”
A native of India, Singh enlisted in the Army shortly after moving to the United States in 2000, and was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq when his patrol was ambushed in Habbaniyah, west of Baghdad. He was fatally wounded by small arms fire on December 1, 2003.
Quinn will join the family of Sgt. Singh, mother Manjit Kaur, father Preet Mahinder Singh, stepmother Taneya Singh, uncle Prem Jay Datt, aunt Harpreet Kaur Taunque Datt, and sister Bani Kaur at the service. Brigadier General Steven Best will deliver opening remarks and hundreds of people, dignitaries and other elected officials are expected to attend.
In addition to delivering a eulogy, Quinn presented and official Gold Star Banners to Sgt. Singh’s mother, stepmother and aunt – who acted as a surrogate mother while Singh was in his adopted country. The Gold Star Mothers tradition dates back to 1918 to honor those whose sons and daughters served and died in service of the United States.
Both traditional American and Sikh customs were intertwined to signify Sgt. Singh’s love of the United States and India. Singing of the American National Anthem, playing of “Taps” and firing of the three-shot volley were woven into the program along with the singing of Sikh Kirtan hymns and a reading of Antim Ardas, the customary last prayer for the departed.
The 21-year-old sergeant was granted his citizenship posthumously on January 8, 2004 at a service at Arlington National Cemetery where his parents chose to have him buried. Singh was promoted shortly after his death from specialist to sergeant, and was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.