Young Sikh Man Joins U.S. Army

May 15, 2006

Source: The Washington Post

On May 15, 2006 The Washington Post reported, "On the eve of his departure, before the road trip to the rest of his life, the young Army officer strode to the center of the main dining room Saturday night at the Army and Navy Club in Washington to cut the sheet cake his mother made for his farewell party. The room of about 100 well-wishers erupted into hearty applause. Second Lt. Aaron Singh Mann, 26, who spent his early childhood in Fairfax County, lowered his head shyly, focusing on the white frosting and green petals that his mother's pale hands had delicately placed around the edges. He cut a single piece and then returned to his seat among the bearded men in red, pink, black and white turbans and the women dressed in colorful crepe and silk, hand-embroidered saris. Mann, whose family name means 'proud' in his father's native Punjabi, is the only son of Surjit and Judy Mann, who live in Virginia Beach. Surjit Mann, a prominent member of the Sikh community in the Washington area, where he is a real estate agent, wanted his son to be a doctor. But two years ago, while studying for his master's degree in public administration at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Aaron Mann decided to join the U.S. military... Because he does not wear a turban, Mann did not have to choose between his religion and a career in the military. Since 1986, the U.S. military has required all soldiers to conform to uniform dress and grooming requirements. Before that, Sikh men were allowed to wear their turbans. In recent years, Sikh community leaders have lobbied the government to make an exception for Sikh men, whose 500-year-old faith, rooted primarily in northern India and Pakistan, requires them to grow their hair and wear a turban."

See also: Sikhism, Military