Second Lieutenant Anmol Narang, a second-generation immigrant born and raised in Roswell, Georgia, is the academy’s first observer, Sikh, meaning that he follows religious practices, including Kesh;
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Narang said to CNN. “It’s a humble experience, I haven’t worked hard for anything in my life. If being a Sikh woman is a very important part of my identity and my experience can play a small role in being an inspiration for others regardless of their career field, it will be great.”
While other Sikhs graduated from academia, the Sikh Coalition confirmed to CNN that Narang was the first observer to graduate from West Point.
The 23-year-old graduate hopes that efforts to represent his religion and society will encourage Americans to learn more about Sikh belief, the world’s fifth-largest religion.
Narang said that after visiting the Pearl Harbor National Monument in Honolulu, Hawaii, he decided to apply to West Point to study nuclear engineering and pursue a career in air defense systems.
Eight years after the Sikh Coalition’s campaign to end the ban on certain religious practices that restrict Sikh members of the U.S. military, the Army updated its rules governing religious freedoms in 2017.
“Second Lieutenant) is proud to see his purpose with Narang, and while doing so, it is a barrier for any Sikh American who wants to serve,” said US Army Captain Simratpal Singh. “The broader acceptance of Sikh service members among all branches of service and in top leadership areas such as West Point will continue to benefit not only from the rights of religious minority individuals but also from the strength and diversity of the U.S. military.”
Instead of gathering at Michie Stadium, the traditional venue of the ceremony, graduates stood 6 meters apart socially across the Straight Walkway to meet Covid-19 public health requirements. The family and friends were not allowed to attend the ceremony, but could watch it online.
“This leading military academy produces only the best of the best, the strongest of the strongest, and the courage of the brave. West Point is a universal symbol of American gallantry, loyalty, devotion, discipline and skill.” Trump said. is reading the address from a teleporter.
“I am here today to present America’s greetings to 1,107, the newest officers of the Army, the most exceptional Army ever on the battlefield. Thank you for answering your country’s call,” he said.
Narang will complete the Leadership Leadership Course at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma. He will then go to his first post in Okinawa, Japan, in January 2021.
CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.