Second Lieutenant Anmol Narang, a second-generation immigrant born and raised in Roswell, Georgia, is the academy’s first Sikh observer, meaning he follows religious practices, including haircuts, which allow hair to grow naturally without being cut.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Narayan told CNN. “It’s a humble experience. I’ve never 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 as an inspiration for others, regardless of their career, it would be great.”
When other Sikhs graduated from the academy, the Sikh Coalition confirmed to CNN that Narang was the first observer Sikh to graduate from West Point.
The 23-year-old graduate hopes his efforts to represent his religion and community will encourage Americans to learn more about Sikhism, the fifth largest religion in the world.
Narang said he decided to apply to West Point to study nuclear engineering after visiting Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii, and to pursue a career path in aviation defense.
In 2017, eight years after the Sikh Coalition launched a campaign to end the US military’s ban on certain religious practices restricted to Sikh members, the military updated its rules regulating religious freedom.
“Narang is very proud to see his goal and to be very proud of it,” Capt. Simrtpal Singh of the U.S. Army said in a statement. “Just as there is widespread acceptance of Sikh service members across all service branches, top leadership positions such as West Point will continue to benefit not only the rights of religious minorities, but also the strength and diversity of the U.S. military.”
Across the postgraduate socially prosperous parade field, the traditional theatrical location of the event was gathered at Michi Stadium, instead of the Covid-19 public health requirements, 6 feet away from each other. Family and friends were not allowed to attend the event, but it could be viewed online.
“This premier military academy is simply the best – the strongest – and the brave encouragement of the brave creates the West reading from its address, a teleprompter.
“I am here to salute America, the 1,107 new officers of the most exceptional army on the battlefield. Thank you for responding to the call of your nation,” he added.
Narang will complete his Basic Officer Leadership course at Fort Seal in Latton, Oklahoma City. He will then move on to his first posting in Okinawa, Japan in January 2021.
CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.