Second Lieutenant Anmul Narang, a second-generation immigrant born and raised in Roswell, Georgia, is the first academic appendix of the Sikhs, meaning that they follow religious practices including Kish, which advocate allowing an individual’s hair to grow naturally without cutting it.
Narang told CNN: “It is an incredible feeling.” “It is a humble experience, I have not worked hard for anything in my life. Being a Sikh woman is a very important part of my identity and if my experience can play a small role in being an inspiration to others, regardless of professional field, that would be great.”
While other Sikhs graduated from the academy, the Sikh Alliance confirmed to CNN that Narang was the first Sikh observer to graduate from West Point.
The 23-year-old graduate hopes that her efforts to represent her American religion and community will encourage her to learn more about the faith of the Sikhs, the fifth largest in the world.
Narang said she decided to apply to West Point to study nuclear engineering and pursue a career in air defense systems after visiting the Pearl Harbor memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In 2017, eight years after the Sikh alliance began its campaign to end the US military’s ban on some religious practices that restrict Sikh members, the military updated its rules governing religious freedoms.
“I am very proud (Second Lieutenant) Narang to see her goal by breaking a barrier in front of any American skewer who wants to serve,” Captain Simratpal Singh said in a statement. “The widespread acceptance of Sikh service members among all service branches, as well as in senior leadership areas such as West Point, will continue to benefit not only from the rights of religious minorities, but the strength and diversity of the U.S. military.”
The graduates socially farther 6 feet from each other via Plade Parade Field to accommodate Covid-19 public health requirements rather than pool at Michie Stadium, the traditional venue for the party. Family and friends are not allowed to attend the celebration but can watch it online.
“This groundbreaking military academy only produces the best of the best – the strongest of the strong – and the bravest of the brave. West Point is a global symbol of American courage, loyalty, dedication, discipline, and skill,” Trump began his title, read from the initiator.
“To the 1107 who are today the newest officers of the most extraordinary army on the battlefield, I am here to salute America. Thank you for answering your nation’s call.”
Narang will complete the basic leadership course for officials at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma. She will then head to her first participation in Okinawa, Japan in January 2021.
Zachary Cohen and Caroline Kelly of CNN contributed to this report.