Monday, August 2, 2010
Fresno – General Vang Pao is considered to be the longtime leader of the Hmong community.
Pao was in Fresno Sunday, rallying to pass a bill that would give Hmong veterans burial privileges.
"We lose 35,000 people to take American's place," said Pao, as he addressed his troops at an event in Southeast Fresno.
Hmong soldiers sacrificed not for their own country, but for America while fighting alongside American soldiers in the Vietnam War.
"The Hmong SGU worked with us for 15 years, and you lost in excess of 30,000 troops fighting for the United States, this is the least we can do to begin to pay you back for the service that you did," said Charlie Waters, a veteran's advocate.
Valley leaders are hoping to repay them by fighting for a bill, introduced by Congressman Jim Costa and 22 others.
It would recognize Hmong soldiers as American servicemen, giving them the right to be buried alongside American veterans in our national cemeteries.
Surviving veterans say they are grateful for the opportunity, to have such an honor.
"The most important thing we want to be recognized as American soldiers. We shed blood in the Vietnam war to protect the American country, please recognize that," said Hmong veteran, Bhou Vu with the help of a translator.
The bill was introduced last week. Congressman Costa expects it will pass, but in the meantime, he must garner more support among his fellow members of congress.
"But it's fitting and proper that the United States recognize those of you who are still here, with an appropriate honor for your service to our country," said Congressman Costa.
There are about 6,900 Hmong veterans alive today, that would be eligible for the burial benefits.