|Here's a story of a migrant. Since 90% of migrants, and 99% of NGOs are not related to terrorism, this category should probablybe renamed "Terrorist Infiltration and Support" or something similar. That way it does not do injustice to migrants like Uday Singh.
America's soldier, India's son cremated with US honours
Thursday December 11 2003 18:52 IST
CHANDIGARH: In what was the first time that a foreign army held a funeral ceremony in India, a young US Army sergeant who died in Iraq was Thursday cremated in his hometown here with full US honours.
It wasn't the tricolour that the body was draped in, but the stars and stripes. It wasn't The Last Post that was played, but Taps, its US Army equivalent.
And both India and the US mourned the loss of Uday Singh, the 21-year-old US Army sergeant of Indian origin - an American hero and an Indian son.
The funeral pyre was lit by Uday's father Preet Mohinder Singh, a former Indian Army officer, in the presence of grieving relatives, friends and the Commander of the US Army's Pacific Command Lieutenant General James Campbell, who had flown in specially from Hawaii.
Uday's body was flown from the US in a commercial airline to New Delhi from where it was brought to his home here by road around 10 a.m.
The coffin draped in the US flag was brought out from the vehicle and a group of US soldiers folded the American flag into a triangle.
Campbell handed over the flag to Uday's father after laying a wreath on the coffin.
The US soldiers then presented a guard of honour to Uday, whose body was draped in "Class A" uniform, by firing a volley of shots.
Indian Army soldiers belonging to the Western Command here, who were loaned for the ceremony, sounded the bugle playing Taps.
There was pin drop silence during the funeral ceremony as Uday's relations, including his grandmother and 11-year-old sister, Bani, watched with their eyes glistening with tears.
Addressing the Singh family and the gathering of their relations and friends, Campbell said: "Sergeant Uday Singh was and always will be an American soldier. He always placed the mission first. He never accepted defeat and he never quit.
"He is our hero. Today, we stand tall as a nation and an army and in our grieving take enormous pride in saluting Sergeant Uday Singh for his noble stance to make the world safer, his sense of honour and commitment and his loyal and faithful service to our country."
Playing glowing tributes to "a brother in arms and India's son", the US general said: "Today, two great democratic nations pause and mourn the loss of this courageous young man who chose the life of a soldier.
"In so doing, he knew fully well that he could be called upon to place his life on the line in order to give people, who have only known tyranny and despair, a chance to be free and to control their own destiny."
Campbell said in Uday's loss the world was reminded once again that freedom was not free and it was paid for in blood, sweat, tears and in the lives "of our most treasured resources - our sons and daughters in uniform".
Praising the rich military tradition of the Singh family, he described Uday as an extraordinary soldier like his father.
"Poised, professional, dedicated to both his missions and to his fellow soldiers, previously decorated for his services in Kuwait, he also was a magnificent role model and a standard setter for his entire company."
Campbell said the motto of the first infantry division was - "no mission too difficult. No sacrifice too great - duty first". And Uday epitomised that spirit.
The US general left after spending about two hours in the Singh household, which was cordoned off by the police for security reasons.
Other than Campbell and the US soldiers, several officials from the US embassy in New Delhi were present. They included Deputy Chief of US Mission Walter North and US Defence Attaché Steven Sboto.
Uday's ashes would be flown to Arlington National Cemetery near Washington where the US Army wanted to bury his body.
Uday passed his Class 12 examinations from this city's St. Stephen's School in 2000 and headed straight for the US to enlist in the army.
He was killed in Habbaniyah in Iraq on December 1, 2003, while serving as a gunner in the US forces - which he had joined only three years ago much against his mother's wishes.
He was the first Indian in the US Army to have been killed in Iraq.