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Remembrance event held Wednesday for Balbir Singh Sodhi, 20 years after his death

Memorial for Balbir Singh Sodhi
Posted at 8:14 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 01:19:01-04

MESA, AZ — A remembrance event was held Wednesday night for Balbir Singh Sodhi, 20 years after his death

A memorial sits outside of what used to be Balbir’s gas station, at the very spot where he was shot and killed.

Ran Singh Sodhi is Balbir’s youngest brother. He says it doesn't get easier with time. "I lost my brother with hate,” he told ABC15.

RELATED: Sikh family speaks about forgiveness, community in honor of Mesa man murdered after 9/11

He says his family came to the U.S. fleeing the Sikh genocide in India, in 1984. “Thousands of Sikh were killed and burned alive... and we chose a country known for freedom of religion, diversity, and equality,” he added.

Seventeen years later, his brother was killed-- they say, because of the way he looked. He was shot by an aircraft mechanic, who said he was seeking revenge.

“That’s the first time, after 9/11 we feel this country has no ignorance and so much hate. I've never seen that before 9/11 and that break my heart,” said Rana.

He says after 9/11, his brother Balbir was planning a press conference to educate people about the Sikh community. “He had a feeling and I had a feeling somebody was going to get hurt the way people anger and hurt,” he told ABC15.

That press conference never happened. He was killed one day before, on Saturday--September 15, 2001.

“My brother trying to save somebody, but he lost his life,” he added.

On the 20th anniversary of his death, more than 100 people gathered to keep his wish for unity and Sikh education alive.

"Sometimes I feel like his death become a beacon of light to awareness," Rana told ABC15.

Inderpreet Kaur, the Community Development Manager with the Sikh Coalition, was also there.

She says it’s through education that we can end hate. “In a way, you know, Balbir Singh Sodhi’s death made us realize that there’s a lot of work for the Sikh community to do. Whether that’s on a national policy level. Whether that’s in the United States classrooms,” she said.

Here’s Rana's message to the community, 20 years after his brother’s life was tragically taken.

“Understand your neighbor, and talk with them... and respect each other, and love each other,” said Rana.

This is what they say Balbir would have wanted.