Hmong Veterans Memorial Rededicated

December 27, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
As thousands gathered to celebrate the Hmong New Year at the fairgrounds Saturday, a much smaller ceremony was held in downtown Fresno to honor Hmong and Laotian soldiers who fought alongside Americans in the Vietnam war. Organizers say it's important that younger generations understand just how much the veterans sacrificed along with their role in American history.About two dozen Hmong and Laotian veterans proudly saluted an American flag as a 22 ton monument honoring their service was re-dedicated. More than 35,000 Hmong and Laotian soldiers died during the Vietnam War, fighting alongside Americans. The memorial was first dedicated in 2005 and was rededicated Saturday as thousands of people gathered to celebrate the Hmong New Year.

"I think this is something the Lao and Hmong community of Fresno and across the nation are very proud of. It serves very tangibly one of the critical missions they performed during the Vietnam conflict," said Major General Ron Markarian.

The monument features two Hmong soldiers coming to the aid of an American airman. Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong, a first generation Hmong American, says he's grown up hearing many stories about the image. "This is a story, from what I hear, for every down American Americans lost, there were 10 times the Hmong soldiers that went in there and lost their lives to save that one. In a way, that kind of dignifies the character of some of the men and women that served in the Vietnam War," said Xiong.

Xiong says it's important that younger generations understand the struggles the veterans endured, both during and after the Vietnam conflict. "When we know a little more about ourselves, then we can be better citizens here and give a little more of ourselves to our country," said Xiong.

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