Somber First Lady Speaks With Grieving Sikh Families in Oak Creek

First Lady Michelle Obama greets Kulwant Singh Dhaliwal, Secretary of Board of Trustees and Oak Creek Mayor Stephen Scaffidi at Oak Creek High School in Milwaukee, WI, August 23, 2012. The First Lady was visiting Oak Creek to visit families of the victims of the recent shooting at a Sikh temple

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Oak Creek – First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday met in a private gathering at Oak Creek High School with the immediate family members of victims and of those who were seriously injured earlier this month in the fatal incident at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

US law enforcement officials earlier labeled the fatal incident on August 5 at the gurdwara in Oak Creek, where Wade Michael Page, a white supremacist gunman, killed six and wounded four members of the Sikh community, including a police officer, an act of terrorism.

Kulwant Singh Dhaliwal, the secretary of the Sikh Temple management committee and Oak Creek Mayor Stephen Scaffidi greeted a somber First Lady in a hallway of the school, where more than 3,000 mourners turned out earlier this month for a funeral for the Sikh victims.

“It’s my honor to be here with you,” Obama told them almost in a whisper. “I’m sorry it’s under these circumstances, but I am anxious to meet with the families and lend whatever support I can.”

First Lady Obama did not take questions from the media during the brief greeting, and reporters were not permitted in the meeting with victims and families.

Dhaliwal, who did not attend the meeting with families, said he was touched by the First Lady’s concern. “It was very graceful of her. It means a lot to us,” he said.

Families began to line up in the hallway outside the gymnasium about 20 minutes before First Lady’s visit, and those who planned to attend said they were looking forward to her visit.

“He’s very excited,” Gurjeet Singh said of his uncle, Santokh Singh, who was critically injured in the deadly rampage by Page that left seven dead, including the gunman, and four others injured. “He can hardly walk or stand because of the stitches, but we’re going,” Gurjeet Singh said.

Santokh Singh was released from Froedtert Hospital last week, and Oak Creek Police Lt. Brian Murphy, who was shot at least eight times by Page, was released Wednesday. A third victim, Punjab Singh, remains in critical condition on life support.

India America Today on Aug. 6 (a day after the massacre) raised the question at the White House daily briefing, asking if the President would be visiting Oak Creek in the near future.

Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, replied, “As for the President’s schedule, I don’t have any announcements to make about upcoming travel.”

On Saturday, August 18, twelve days after the question was raised, the White House confirmed that the First Lady would be visiting the Sikh community on August 23. (IATNS)

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