Vigil held in Fresno to remember General Vang Pao

FRESNO, Calif.

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It's the first time the general's family has spoken publicly in front of the Fresno Hmong community since his death.

Sunday night's service was organized by the general's family. They updated the community on funeral plans, as well as thanked them for their continuing support.

Hundreds of people packed into Southeast Fresno's Orchid Hall Sunday night. Holding candles, the crowd listened as General Vang Pao's family addressed them for the first time.

Pacyinz (bay-ying) Lyfoung (lee-fong) is the general's granddaughter. She says family members have spent the past few days making funeral arrangements.

At this point, plans are still in place to hold a four day event in Fresno sometime in the beginning of February. Lyfoung says they are trying to include as much of the community as possible. "We are trying to find the balance between personal grief, personal loss, as well as for the need of the community to participate in the loss who was everyone's father and everyone's community leader."

General Vang is credited for helping bring thousands of Hmong people into the United States. Since his death Thursday, communities in the valley and all over the world have organized vigils every night.

Family members say the support they've received speaks volumes to General Vang's influence within the Hmong culture. "It means so much. Words can't describe the magnitude of his stature in our community," said General Vang Pao's grandson Bobby Vang.

Fresno City Council Member Blong Xiong, who spoke at Sunday night's vigil, says he has seen the general's impact firsthand -- especially now that he's gone. "He's recognized by everyone, whether you're old, young or in the middle, even if you don't know him personally, you know of him. And now, with his passing, I think you are seeing the Hmong community come together more stronger and I think that will show."

The family says if all goes well, the funeral will be held at the Fresno Convention Center. As for his burial, they are still hoping for permission to bury him at Arlington National Cemetery.

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The family has started The General Vang Pao Memorial Fund. People can donate at any Wells Fargo bank or mail a check to:

The General Vang Pao Memorial Fund
565 S. Filbert Avenue
Fresno, CA 93727

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The United Hmong International, Inc (18 Clan) will be hosting a candlelight vigil to celebrate the great General Vang Pao's life, contribution to both the Hmong communities and the United States. We have prepared a complete program and agenda for friends, family and members of the community to come participate in this very special night.

DATE: January 10, 2011
TIME: 5:00PM to 10:00PM
LOCATION: Orchid Hall
4903 E Kings Canyon Rd
Fresno, CA 93727
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