Memorial Day To Continue National Honors, Recognition, for Lao Hmong Veterans

Press Release (ePRNews.com) - WASHINGTON - May 26, 2018 - As Memorial Day approaches, Lao and Hmong veterans of the Vietnam War in Laos are being honored at national ceremonies according to the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA).

“As Memorial Day approaches, Lao and Hmong veterans are being honored at national veterans ceremonies and events at Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the White House, the U.S. Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Philip Smith, director of the CPPA and National Liaison of the Lao Veterans of America (LVA).  “Lao- and Hmong-American veterans’ memorial ceremonies commemorating National Lao Hmong Veterans Recognition Day (May 14-15) are part of the events being held in Washington and nationwide.”

Senator Whitehouse’s statement follows:

U.S. Senator Whitehouse Commemorates Heroism of Hmong and Lao Soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery —   Whitehouse’s Hmong Veterans Service Recognition Act honors Hmong and Lao veterans nationwide

Lao- and Hmong-Americans from Rhode Island and around the U.S. gather to lay wreath at Lao Veterans Monument.

Washington, D.C. May 15,2018- Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) honored Lao- and Hmong-American veterans who aided the U.S. during the Vietnam War at a wreath-laying ceremony before Arlington Cemetery’s Lao Veterans Monument today. In remarks, Whitehouse offered a remembrance of the heroism of Hmong and Lao soldiers during the Vietnam War, which claimed tens of thousands of lives in Laos. Whitehouse was joined by several Lao and Hmong veterans and their families, including a large contingent from Rhode Island.

“We will always remember the bravery of those Hmong troops and their dedication to fight for democracy and to protect the lives of so many young Americans at war in Southeast Asia,” said Whitehouse, whose father served as Ambassador to Laos during the Vietnam War and later joined the effort to recognize Lao- and Hmong-Americans’ service.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump signed into law Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Whitehouse’s Hmong Veterans Service Recognition Act to allow the burial of naturalized Lao and Hmong veterans in U.S. veterans’ cemeteries.

The ceremony took place in front of a plaque dedicated to Hmong and Lao veterans. “It is a fitting honor for those brave combat veterans that they lie beside old comrades-in-arms, a way of keeping the promise inscribed on this memorial plaque, which pledges that the Hmong and Lao veterans’ ‘patriotic valor and loyalty in the defense of liberty and democracy will never be forgotten,'” Whitehouse added.

The Lao Veterans of America (LVA) organized today’s wreath laying. Members of the LVA include surviving Lao- and Hmong-American soldiers and airmen who served during the Vietnam War. The LVA is active in states around the country that are home to Lao and Hmong communities, including Rhode Island.

Whitehouse’s speech follows:

“Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to join you today in this hallowed place. We come together here with many memories,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

“As a young man, I lived with my father while he served as U.S. Ambassador to Laos. I came to know it as a heartbreakingly beautiful country, with lovely, kind people, into which our international contest with communism violently intruded.

“The goal of the U.S. in Laos at the time was to prevent North Vietnamese forces from using Laos as a supply line for attacks on South Vietnam, along what was known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail; and to prevent Laos itself from falling under Communist domination by the Pathet Lao forces.

“And so began a covert war in Laos, funded by the C.I.A., in which at least 35,000 Lao and Hmong perished.

“The legendary Hmong military leader, General Vang Pao, operated out of a base at Long Tieng in the mountains of Laos. He told the New York Times in 2008 that ‘There were three missions that were very important that were given to us and to me … One was stopping the flow of the North Vietnamese troops through the Ho Chi Minh Trail to go to the south through Laos. Second was to rescue any American pilots during the Vietnam War. Third, to protect the Americans that navigated the B-52s and the jets to bomb North Vietnam.’

“After the war, thousands of displaced Hmong refugees were obliged to flee Laos. They fled into Thailand, to countries in Europe, and – in many cases – to the United States. My state of Rhode Island is proud to have had many settle and build their lives in our communities.

“The Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act passed into law this year, finally allowing naturalized Hmong- and Laotian-American veterans to be buried in U.S. national cemeteries. In particular, I want to thank my fellow Rhode Islander Philip Smith, of the Lao Veterans of America, for his determined advocacy on behalf of Hmong and Lao veterans.

“Twenty-one years ago, the Clinton Administration authorized a plaque to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery commemorating the valor of the Lao soldiers who aided American forces during the Vietnam War. It is a fitting honor for those brave combat veterans that they lie beside old comrades-in-arms, a way of keeping the promise inscribed on this memorial plaque, which pledges that the Hmong and Lao veterans’ ‘patriotic valor and loyalty in the defense of liberty and democracy will never be forgotten’…

“It is with that sense of abiding gratitude that we gather today. We will always remember the bravery of those Hmong troops and their dedication to fight for democracy and to protect the lives of so many young Americans at war in Southeast Asia,” Whitehouse concluded.

http://www.whitehouse.senate.gov/news/release/senator-whi…

Source : U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

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