|Sikh Regiment in India (Photo by Harmanjaspreet Singh)|
For male Sikhs, long hair and full beards are ways of showing their faith. Captain Simratpal Singh of the United States Army explains: A true Sikh is supposed to stand out, so he can defend those who cannot defend themselves.
Captain Singh has a sterling history of defending the oppressed. After graduating from West Point, he “led a platoon of combat engineers who cleared roadside bombs in Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star.”
All the while, he was told by Army superiors to comply with standard military grooming rules. For the first time in his life, Singh had to sport short hair and no beard.
The New York Times reports that Singh’s self-confidence was harmed by this ruling. “For a long time after, he would shave without looking in the mirror.” Singh himself stated: Your self-image, what you believe in, is cut away.
After ten years, the Army has finally granted Singh a temporary religious accommodation. He is currently allowed to “grow his hair and wrap his beard in a turban.”
However, this may be short-lived. If the Army soon reverses this decision, Singh may then have to choose between exercising his freedom of religion or leaving the Army.
After fighting so valiantly for the freedom of others, why should Singh have to battle on for his own Constitutional rights?
Copyright December 16, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved