Hmong people from all over the U.S. are in Fresno this week, preparing for the largest Hmong celebration in the country. Meanwhile, back in Laos, there are thousands of Hmong people still living in the jungles, under constant fear of attack by communist forces. More are living in refugee camps in Thailand. Next month, General Vang Pao is planning on going back to Laos in an effort to bring end the persecution of his people. Considering the charges he once faced, the trip may seem like a shock to some, but not to many of his people, who have grown up admiring the general for his service and leadership. "He's not going to live there, obviously, just making peace for his people. He said, in his words, I will live for my people, I will die for my people ... " said Paula Yang.
Congressman Jim Costa also attended the general's welcome home celebration. He called General Vang Pao's upcoming trip an important milestone, especially considering his influence on his people. "He's an important contributor to trying to establish a long term peace," said Costa.
The Hmong New Year celebration begins on Saturday and continues through January 2. After that, the general plans to travel to Laos on January 10.