WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Lao and Hmong veterans, and their U.S. Special Forces and clandestine advisors of the Vietnam War in Laos, are being honored on Memorial Day in a culmination of month-long, national ceremonies being held at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) and nationwide, according to the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA). In a historic meeting earlier in May, the White House, under President Donald Trump, opened its doors and met with Lao- and Hmong-American veterans leaders, including the National President of the Lao Veterans of America (LVA), Major Cheurchai Vang, for the first time since the Vietnam War ended.
"Today, on Memorial Day, flowers are being placed at the Laos Memorial in Arlington in grateful honor of those who sacrificed, suffered and died defending the Royal Kingdom of Laos and U.S. national security interests during the bloody invasion of Laos and South Vietnam by Soviet-backed communist forces of North Vietnam," said Philip Smith, Director of the CPPA and National Liaison for the LVA. "Congressman Jim Costa (D-California) is speaking at Memorial Day ceremonies at the monument to Hmong veterans in Fresno.” Smith continued: "Lao Hmong veterans are being honored at national ceremonies and events at Arlington (ANC), the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the U.S. Congress, the Trump White House, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Memorial ceremonies commemorating National Lao Hmong Veterans Recognition Day (May 14-15) are part of the month-long events being held nationwide."
At Arlington, ANC Superintendent Katharine Kelley gave remarks: "We are in a special place… to honor the Hmong and Lao combat veterans and their American advisors in front of this tremendous tree. It was 21 years ago on this day that we gathered and dedicate this Atlas Cedar, and this plaque, to all those who served in the U.S. Secret Army… Today is a powerful reminder of the actions of Hmong, Lao and American service members who fought together as allies in the Vietnam War….Thank you for choosing to memorialize their heroism here in Arlington."
"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 U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, whose father served as Ambassador to Laos during the Vietnam War.
At Arlington (ANC), Senator Whitehouse continued with keynote remarks: "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...” http://www.whitehouse.senate.gov/news/release/senator-whitehouse-commemorates-heroism-of-hmong-and-lao-soldiers-at-arlington-national-cemetery
"I join in extending my sincere gratitude to all of the Laotian and Hmong soldiers who fought during the Vietnam War. I would also like to thank their families for their sacrifice and service to the United States as we commemorate the 21st Anniversary of the dedication of the Laos Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery," stated Senator Jack Reed.
"Following memorial wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington and the Vietnam War Memorial, we are honored to be the first Lao- and Hmong-American veterans to be welcomed into the White House, and VA, to discuss important policy issues with President Trump's advisors since the Vietnam War," said Major Cheurchai Vang, National President, LVA. "The meetings with the White House and VA were historic to thank President Trump for signing the Lao Hmong Veterans' Service Recognition Act, and to discuss its implementation."
"We are honored to conduct these national ceremonies at Arlington, Washington, D.C., and nationwide, and meet with Members of Congress," said Peter Vang, Executive Director of the LVA. "Historic meetings with the Trump White House and VA officials, on May 14-15, were productive regarding implementing the new burial honors law for our veterans."
"We remember the suffering and deaths of our Lao-Hmong veterans and thank Congress and President Trump, for the Hmong Veterans' Service Recognition Act," said Pang Mang Thao, President, Minnesota, LVA.
"I thank and honor my fellow courageous Laotian, Hmong and American soldiers who fought in the Royal Kingdom of Laos battling invading North Vietnamese Communist forces, who were backed by Soviet Russia during the Vietnam War," said Green Beret General Victor Hugo, U.S.-SFA,Ret.