WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Lao- and Hmong-American veterans who served in Laos during the Vietnam War, and their American advisors, were honored at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) at a special veterans’ memorial ceremony held on Thursday by the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI), Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), Members of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Defense, Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Keynote remarks were offered by the offices of Congressman Jim Costa (D-California), Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski (R) and Mark Begich (D), ANC Deputy Superintendent Jack Lechner and other officials.
“We are here to remember and honor our fellow Lao and Hmong soldiers and our U.S. Special Forces, CIA and Air America counterparts and advisors who served and died in Laos fighting invading communist forces from North Vietnam in defense of the Royal Kingdom of Laos and our American allies,” commented Colonel Wangyee Vang, President of the LVAI.
Senator Murkowski stated: “…the Lao Veterans of America Institute has put together a beautiful tribute to Lao and Hmong veterans on these most hallowed grounds…a very fitting location given our on-going efforts to authorize the interment in national cemeteries of Hmong veterans who served in support of U.S. forces during the Vietnam War…. I am pleased to announce that just yesterday I reintroduced the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act along with broad support from seven other Senators.”
“The U.S. Marine Corps provided an honor guard to post colors and open the ceremony at the Lao Veterans of America monument,” observed Philip Smith, Director of the CPPA. “A U.S. Army ‘Old Guard’ wreath-bearer assisted in the wreath laying; and, a U.S. Army Band bugler played ‘Taps’ to honor the sacrifices of the dead.”
“As a young soldier who served on the battlefields of Vietnam, I am here to help honor our veterans,” said Albert Santoli, Director of the Asia America Initiative.
“Until there is comprehensive recognition by the U.S. government and U.S. society of the service of all veterans in the struggle to overcome tyranny in Indochina, America can be said to have failed in its obligation to honor fully all those who fought and died there,” stated Edmund McWilliams, Vietnam veteran and U.S. Foreign Service Officer (USFSO-Ret.), Bangkok, Thailand.
Hugh Tovar, former CIA station chief in Laos stated: “I want to thank you for your kind invitation to participate in the memorial events at Arlington National Cemetery. It would be an honor to participate in the memorial events in Arlington National Cemetery. Those soldiers are my own heroes. Their war was my war, against a common enemy, and now they are my fellow American citizens.”
Keynote remarks were also given by: Colonel Wangyee Vang, LVAI; Philip Smith, CPPA; Grant McClure, Counterparts; Mike Benge, USFSO-Ret., and former Vietnam War POW; Jane Hamilton-Merritt and others.
The ceremonies marked, May 14-15, National Lao Hmong Recognition Day.