Lights have been rising throughout the community of Oak Creek and beyond in commemoration and honor of the fallen - six individuals shot last Sunday at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.
Since the tragic killings, mourners of diverse backgrounds and religions have united in a number of candlelight vigils, from the immediate Sunday and then Tuesday night vigils in Oak Creek, to the vigils across the nation, of which more than 100 took place this week alone. A memorial service was held Friday morning for the six victims.
Friday's service took place at Oak Creek High School and drew hundreds of attendees wearing scarves over their heads in honor of Sikh tradition. Six coffins adorned with flowers stood in the gym, next to large, framed portraits of the deceased. A video projection commemorated the dead and wounded.
At the service, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said the community has been echoing the morals of Martin Luther King Jr. by showing love in the face of hate, and the nationwide support for Oak Creek shows this sentiment is not lost on outside communities, either.
Thousands from all backgrounds, also united by their token kerchiefs, came out to the Tuesday night vigil, which took place following the "National Night Out" event at Henry Miller Park. Candlelights replaced the usual fireworks that end the annual event.
At the gathering, people told the life stories of the deceased, touching audience members to tears.
"The thing I want our children and our grandchildren to remember is nights like tonight,” Walker said Tuesday. “To show support for each other. To live a little bit stronger. To live a little bit closer."
During the smaller Sunday night vigil immediately following the shooting, candles were not the only lights glowing. Most outstanding of the messages that night were the L.E.D.-illuminated letters, originally used by a local community of activists, rearranged to create the line, "WISCONSIN WEEPS."
Support for and within the Sikh community flows from the hundreds of Sikhs who came together in Union Square, New York, Wednesday night wearing shirts that read "We Are All Sikhs" on the front and "America Stands Together" on the back, to the Oak Creek Walgreens, which donated its entire stock of candles to the Tuesday night vigil.