Washington: US has acknowledged the immense contribution of the Sikh community in its socio-economic fabric and cultural milieu as it celebrated 100 years of the arrival of Bhagat Singh Thind, who led a life-long battle for the rights of Indians to gain American citizenship.
Thind, who arrived in the US in July 1913 from Amritsar, was the first turbaned Sikh to fight in the American armed forces and fighting a legal battle to obtain citizenship for him and many others.
"The goal of this event is to acknowledge the contributions this community has made to the country, celebrate 100 years of achievement, the immigrant success story in America and also to acknowledge the horrible tragedy of Oak Creek last year," said Paul Monteiro, associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Organised last week by the White House Office of Public Engagement, with the cooperation of the Sikh Council on Religious Education (SCORE), leaders of the Sikh said that they still have a long way to go in the US, even though they have accomplished much in the 100 years.
"At the end of the day, we are celebrating today our Sikh heritage and that identity is an identity this President (Barack Obama) truly does appreciate and respect in a lot of important ways," said Amar Singh, a member of the White House Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islanders.
For the first time in over 30 years, three turbaned Sikhs were allowed to serve in the US military under this administration and just a month.
"But the work is not over yet," said Singh.
"This is perhaps the first time that such a collection of prominent Sikh business leaders has gathered at one place.
It shows that as a community, we have generated wealth and jobs and proved our vitality," said Singh, chairman of SCORE.
During the event, Sikh entrepreneurs reflected on their positive experiences within American business.
Sunny Singh, president and CEO of Edifics, described his immigration to the US and the challenges he faced as a businessman, going from near bankrupt to financial success.
"American fully embraced me and gave me an opportunity to survive and thrive.
"Values of my faith, Sikhism and US founding principles, coincided to give me the strength to create an opportunity for myself," said Gurpreet `Sunny` Singh, CEO, Edifecs Inc., a multi-million dollar company in Seattle, Washington.
Savneet Singh, CEO of Gold Bullion, a leading precious metals distribution platform based in Manhattan, said, "being in America is one of the biggest advantages he had always felt and circumstances created opportunities for me to succeed and many of us..."
Savneet is the founder and president of GBI, the first electronic platform that allows investors to buy, trade and store physical precious metals.
Savneet was recently named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list, Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business, in addition to the Empact 100 list of top 100 Entrepreneurs under 30.