WASHINGTON & FRESNO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Memorial Day, 2017, PST - Lao- and Hmong-American veterans, along with their families and American advisors, are commemorating Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam War Memorial, the U.S. Congress and in ceremonies in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Alaska and nationwide. The ceremonies are a culmination of two weeks of national events to honor veterans, and those who suffered and died, defending the Royal Kingdom of Laos during the Vietnam War.
The national ceremonies and events are also being held to mark the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the Laos Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery by the Lao Veterans of America (LVA), Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) and others in May, 1997. Members of Congress speaking at the ceremonies include Congressmen Jim Costa (D-CA), Paul Cook (R-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Jim Langevin (D-RI), as well as Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John Boozman (R-AR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Al Franken (D-MN), and others. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), Army, Special Forces Association (SFA), and the National Association of Black Veterans (NABV) are also participating.
Memorial Day flowers are being placed in Arlington at the Laos Memorial.
“We are here to honor our Lao- and Hmong-American veterans and their families who suffered and died defending Laos during the Vietnam War,” said Peter Vang, Director, LVA.
“We are gathered in Arlington National Cemetery, with the U.S. Army's “Old Guard”, to honor the Lao Hmong veterans, families, and community, who fought side-by-side with U.S. forces in Laos during the Vietnam War and to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the 'Laos Memorial',” Congressman Jim Costa said in keynote remarks at a U.S. DOD, wreath laying ceremony held on May 15 at the Lao Veterans of America monument. Costa is also slated to speak at Memorial Day ceremonies in Fresno and to reintroduce legislation, the “Hmong Veterans Service Recognition Act.”
Green Beret Colonel James Bruton, SFA, stated: “My Special Forces unit trained Lao and Hmong Special Guerrilla Units (SGU) in Thailand.... In 1972, I commanded part of an A-Team on a training mission in southern Laos, in Champassak Province...throughout the period we got reports of the impressive combat results of the Hmong SGUs...”
“Thousands of you are gathered in Arlington, Washington, and across the U.S. to remember those who fought the Soviet-backed, invading North Vietnamese communist forces who attacked the Kingdom of Laos and killed our people, and our Lao Hmong veterans, and families, as well as the Royal Lao family,” said Pang Mang Thao, President, of the Minnesota LVA.
“Freedom is certainly not free; We are, therefore, grateful to the Lao Hmong veterans and their American Special Forces, CIA, and Air America advisors; We thank Members of Congress, as well as the U.S. Armed Forces color guard, the Army’s Old Guard, for their participation at the official wreath laying ceremony at the Lao Veterans of America monument in Arlington, and the Vietnam War Memorial, in remembrance of the fallen,” observed Philip Smith, Director of the CPPA.
“The dedication of this important memorial 20 years ago today in Arlington represents our nation’s tremendous gratitude for the sacrifice and service of these brave individuals who fought in the shadows for the cause of freedom,” stated Senator John Boozman.
“I remember the Lao and Hmong people and their tremendous sacrifices, especially when my father served as Ambassador to the Royal Kingdom of Laos during the Vietnam War, and I traveled with him to the U.S. ‘Secret Army’ base at Long Tieng,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.
“We will again introduce legislation to honor the Lao Hmong veterans,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski.
Colonel Wangyee Vang, President Emeritus and LVA founder stated: “This monument in Arlington represents the sacrifices of the Hmong, Khmu, Lao, Mien, and other ethnic Lao, and their American advisors for their service in the Vietnam War...These honorable men and women who shed their blood for today’s freedom will never be forgotten.”