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35th Anniversary Of Vietnam War

Laos, Hmong Veterans Mark 35th Anniversary Of Vietnam War http://www.cppa-dc.org

On Friday, May 14, 2010, from 10:30 AM-12:00 P.M., the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI), the Lao Veterans of America, the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) and Arlington National Cemetery will host veterans memorial events and a wreath laying ceremony to honor Lao and Hmong veterans and their American advisers on the 35th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War in Laos.

“This is the 35th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, we are here in Washington, D.C. and Arlington National Cemetery to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers who shed their blood and lives for today’s freedom in the world, and to honor our surviving veterans and their families as they continue to struggle day-to-day’s life,” said Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America Institute.

“The Hmong and Lao veterans are those who served the United States honorably in Laos during the Vietnam War,” Colonel Vang commented.

Colonel Wangyee stated further: “…We came to America as political refugees and now, just as the United States’ Congress has passed the Hmong Veterans Naturalization Act of 2000 (H.R. 371) previously, all of our Lao Hmong veterans who came in the 1980s and 1990s are American citizens. Today, we would like to appeal the our policymakers to award veterans benefits for the Hmong and Lao veterans who have fought on behalf of the American people in Laos during the Vietnam War.”

A U.S. Department of Defense Color Guard, and U.S. Army wreath bearer and bugler will participate in the events.

“We are also here in Washington, D.C. to appeal to the United Congress to consider veterans’ benefits for the Lao Hmong veterans, because these veterans are growing older and older each day, some of them may not have the opportunity to enjoy these veterans benefits and as priority would like to have the burial benefit to be passed by the Congress as soon as possible,” stated Khampheng Chanthadara, of the Lao Veterans of America Chapter in Texas who has traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the national events in Arlington Cemetery, the U.S. Congress and Washington, D.C.

The national veterans ceremonies will be held at the Lao Veterans of America and Hmong veterans monument, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

The ceremonies will also mark and memorialize Lao Hmong Veterans National Recognition Day and U.S. Armed Forces Day.

“At the events and ceremonies in the U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C. and Arlington National Cemetery this week, we seek to honor and pay our respects to the Lao and Hmong veterans as well as their refugee families, and American advisers, who sacrificed and served to defend the Royal Kingdom of Laos and U.S. national security interests during the Vietnam War,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Policy Analysis. http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org

Speakers at the veterans ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery include Colonel Wangyee Vang, President, LVAI; Philip Smith, Director, CPPA; Dr. Grant McClure, Counterparts Veterans Association.; The Honorable John Barnum, Esquire; Michael Benge, former U.S. Foreign Service Officer and POW in Laos and Vietnam; and others.

“As you well know, I have the greatest regard for the Lao and Hmong veterans, and I cherish the memory of the years, we served together as comrades in arms against a common enemy,” Hugh Tovar, former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) station chief in Laos, stated.

“This ceremony is an important remembering, a celebration and a tribute to a time when U.S. and Lao and Hmong soldiers fought a common adversary as brothers. As we recall that difficult period we are reminded that that alliance embraced more than the arms-bearing soldiers,” stated Edmund McWilliams, a Senior U.S. Foreign Service officer (USDS-Ret.) who served in the U.S. Embassies in Bangkok and Vientiane, Laos, and an Army combat veteran of the Vietnam War.

“No commemoration of that struggle could be complete with out acknowledgement of the sacrifice of families of those fighters. In particular we recall that the enemy brought the fight to civilian communities, especially to Hmong villagers in Laos who suffered terrible abuse at the hands of the Vietnamese troops and their communist Lao allies…” McWilliams added.

McWilliams stated further: “As we gather here today to honor the veterans who sacrificed so much, we also honor the civilians who bore grave burdens in that long, heroic struggle. In particular our minds and hearts turn to those who still suffer grievously at the hands of the Vietnamese and Lao forces who continue to target and persecute the Hmong, Lao and Montagnard people whose association with U.S. forces over three decades ago leaves the indelible mark of ‘enemy.’… ”

McWilliams commented further: “As we remember and mark the sacrifice of all veterans of the struggle in Indochina and their families we also make a solemn pledge. We will not forget that a struggle for justice continues here in the U.S. where we seek provision of appropriate benefits for all veterans of that conflict…”

Cosponsors and participants in the veterans commemorative ceremonies include the LVAI, CPPA, Lao Veterans of America, Inc., Counterparts Veterans Association, Hmong Advance, Inc., Hmong Advancement, Inc., Laotian & Hmong Students and Youth Association, Arlington National Cemetery, U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Defense, Members of Congress.

Laotian and Hmong-American delegations from California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Alabama, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and other states are slated to attend and participate.

ENDS

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