May 21, 2015

Hmong: Celebration of 40th Anniversary of Hmong Diaspora

The uprooting of the Hmong ethnic group from Laos, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, which led to thousands fleeing their homeland to resettle in countries around the world, will be commemorated in an event by the Hmong American Center of Wasau, Wisconsin, entitled “Praise Our Good Hmong Name/Qhuas Peb Lub Npe Hmoob Zoo”.

Below is an article by the Wasau Daily Herald:


A Wausau-area youth group will commemorate on Saturday [23 May 2015] the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Hmong diaspora, the uprooting of the ethnic group from Laos in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

The H.M.O.N.G. — or Help Making Our Next Generation — youth program will spotlight the historic events that led to thousands of Hmong fleeing their Laotian homeland to resettle in countries around the world. Most of the refugees ended up in the United States after fighting on America's side in the war. Locally, the upheaval has led to a population of more than 7,000 people from Southeast Asia or their descendants in Marathon County, the highest per-capita Southeast Asian population in Wisconsin.

The event, titled Qhuas Peb Lub Npe Hmoob Zoo, or Praise Our Good Hmong Name, will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at D.C. Everest Senior High School

This will be the fourth year the H.M.O.N.G. group, formed through the Hmong American Center of Wausau and consisting of about 60 teenagers in high school and college, has organized the public event. It's intended primarily to help teach young Hmong people about Hmong culture, history and the importance of public service, but it has evolved into a free Hmong cultural festival for a general audience as well.

Praise Our Good Hmong Name especially will focus on the sacrifices made by Hmong veterans of the Army of Gen. Vang Pao, which allied itself and fought for America in Laos during the Vietnam War, said Yee Leng Xiong, the founder and adviser of H.M.O.N.G.

On May 14, 1975, Gen. Vang Pao and other Hmong military leaders evacuated from Laos when American support for the Hmong was withdrawn as the United States pulled out of Vietnam. Tens of thousands of Hmong people followed Vang Pao, first living in Thailand in United Nations refugee camps, then resettling in other other countries, primarily the United States.

The 40th anniversary of that day is the crucial turning point for Hmong-Americans, so "this year we decided to pay our respects to our veterans, to our parents and the old leaders who helped paved the path for the younger generation," Xiong said.

Praise Our Good Hmong Name is being organized by the youth of the club. "This is our way of thanking the veterans," said Fong Moua, 17, of Wausau, a junior at Wausau East High School. "My grandpa was a soldier in the war and ... he got injured for that. But his participation in the war helped bring us here."

Saturday's event will include performances of traditional and modern dance, a fashion show and presentations by local Hmong leaders. The keynote speech will be by Col. Ly Teng, a key leader in the Hmong army and Gen. Vang Pao's brother-in-law. Now 73 years old and living in Blaine, Minn., Teng said events such as Praise Our Good Hmong Name are important because they tie generations of Hmong together.

The entire event will finish with traditional Hmong food, catered by Hmong Eggroll, which will be served around 7 p.m.

"We need to join together and we need to walk together," Teng said in a phone interview on Monday. "The older people are passing away. Very few are left. We depend on the young, and we try to support them, to lead the people."