Monday, April 11, 2011
BUCHANAN — A ceremony to receive a son of the late Hmong leader and military hero, Gen. Vang Pao, drew hundreds of families from Wisconsin and Minnesota to the Fox Cities on Saturday.
Neng Chue Vang, who lives in Phoenix, has been touring the state to comfort mourners and thank them for their support during his father’s January funeral. About 350 people attended Saturday’s event.
“After the death of the general, everybody is (in need of direction). They don’t know where they are going,” said Mao Khang of Hmong Women Association of Wausau. “This means a lot to them, just seeing him — especially for the elders who have been missing his father.”
Saturday’s program at Phonsavan, a banquet hall, was to celebrate the life of the 81-year-old Vang Pao, who during the Vietnam War mobilized Hmong guerrillas in the CIA’s clandestine operation in Laos.
After intelligence officers left, he was instrumental in helping thousands of refugees resettle in Wisconsin and other states around the country.
Nao Neng Vang, a Stevens Point resident and ceremony chairman, said Hmong leaders selected the Appleton area for a visit because of its central location for those traveling to the event.
There were song and dance performances, remarks from several leaders with the Hmong 18 Council of Wisconsin and a message from the group’s honored guest, Neng Chue Vang.
Nina Vue, a 19-year-old from Milwaukee, came with her parents to the ceremony curious to know if he will be the next leader.
“The Hmong community has a lot of rules and regulations. Without a leader (serving) as (an arbitrator), it’s hard to decide what is correct and how to do things,” she said, speaking of Hmong customs and way of family life.
Douglas Chuedoua Vue, also of Milwaukee, is focused on the future.
“Before Gen. Vang Pao passed away, he left a very important message … about his 68 years of experience leading the Hmong,” he said.
He said the council would study his words after completing Vang Pao’s spiritual ceremony planned during Memorial Day weekend.
“We still hold on to our strength. We are still united as one. We are still working as a team,” he said.