More to celebrate: Hmong may get their own day

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hmong dancers perform in traditional dress at the Hmong New Year celebration at Hickory American Legion Fairgrounds on Nov. 23.

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry is working toward the creation of a national Hmong Recognition Day to recognize the contributions of the group to the United States during and since the Vietnam War.

"My support of Hmong causes is rooted in the positive contributions the Hmong continue to make in our local communities," McHenry said. "I consider the Hmong to be great patriots whose sacrifice on behalf of the United States during the Vietnam War is well-documented."

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) joined McHenry in introducing the resolution, requesting President Barack Obama issue a proclamation calling for the U.S. government and citizens to observe such a day.

"The time has come for the Lao-Hmong community to be recognized for the all the tremendous contributions it has made to our democracy and our nation," Moore said. "The very name Lao-Hmong means 'free people' and we should honor the Hmong community for their commitment to the U.S. and its ideals."

"Their participation and leadership in communities across this country continues to enrich America and all its citizens. The shared ideals of the Hmong and American people are a bond that will be formally recognized with this resolution," McHenry said.

The Hmong fought along with American military against the North Vietnamese army from 1960 to 1975. During that war, more than 35,000 Hmong lost their lives while participating in tactical guerrilla action, combat and rescue missions and intelligent operations.

Many of the Hmong faced retribution by the Laotian government for helping America and fled to Thailand and the United States.

"The actions taken by the Hmong for America cannot and should not be understated and the time for recognition is long overdue," Moore said. "There is no way that America can repay the Hmong for the lives lost and the sacrifices made. However, we can recognize the Hmong for their sacrifices and make sure that their deeds are never forgotten."

Attempts to reach representatives of the local Hmong population were unsuccessful.


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