Hmong community prepares to honor their former leader

FRESNO, Calif.

The event begins with a funeral procession at 11 a.m. at Ventura and "M" Street. Mourners are expected to line "M" street as the general's body is carried to the Fresno Convention Center New Exhibit Hall.

Following today's 11 a.m. procession through Downtown Fresno, the service begins at noon. A list of expected speakers from -- congressmen to former C.I.A. agents -- will give us a clear picture of the impact and importance of General Vang Pao.

Volunteers inside the New Exhibit Hall spent the night covering chairs and setting up plants and flowers in anticipation of this massive event.

"It will be a real a daunting task but we are here and really go for it. And I think we are ready now," said event organizer Dr. Lue Vang.

More than 4,600 seats are in place and organizers are expecting to fill them with visitors from around the world. Thousands are flying into Fresno's airport for the event.

"It's our leader that brought us here."

Maylee Vang is coming from Milwaukee Wisconsin and had to deal with the frigid wintry weather just to get here. "The weather is really bad and they have to shut down the airport so I have to take the bus to Chicago to catch me flight for coming here. It's a long day."

Those who got stuck in the snow or chose not to come will not miss a beat. Television crews from Hmong T.V. will be providing a satellite feed to hundreds of thousands of Hmong around the world.

General Vang Pao's youngest child Chineng Vang says the enormous outpouring of support for his father is helping the family get through this difficult time. "As you can see from all the volunteers that's out of the respect and love that they have and we were able to do something like this, of this magnitude which has never been done in the Hmong history before. So it's heartwarming and it means a lot to the family."

General Vang's family put up the money to hold this massive six day event. There will be funeral ceremonies and rituals nearly round the clock from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Family members tell Action News they believe mourners will be generous in their donations when paying their respects to the general.

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