Vigil held in honor of general

Thursday, January 20, 2011
War hero honored with candlelight vigil Democrat Photo Hmong-Americans who attended a candlelight vigil at the Wheaton High School gymnasium on Sunday honored their hero, Gen. Vang Pao, with flowers, incense and candles. Pao was chief of a Laotian army that fought along the United States in the Vietnam War. Nancy Vang, pictured below right, attended the memorial ceremony with her father, John, and other members of her family.

On Sunday, a large group of Hmong-Americans gathered at the Wheaton High School gymnasium to mourn the death of Gen. Vang Pao, who was the chief of a Laotian army that fought alongside the United States armed forces in the Vietnam War.

"Gen. Pao was a national leader for the Hmong people," said Cheng Vang, a member of the Southwest Missouri Hmong Association who helped organize the vigil in Wheaton.

"He was a great leader for all of us," said Vang. "His death was a shocking moment for the Hmong people across the United States and around the world, as well."

According to Vang, Hmong-Americans credited Pao for their positive relationship with the United States government. They also believe Pao enabled them to come to America after the Vietnam War.

"He is the father of the Hmong people," said Vang. "A lot of people won't be able to travel to California for the funeral service, so we decided to hold a candlelight vigil here for those who can't travel."

During the vigil, several prominent members of the Southwest Missouri Hmong Association gave addresses, led the group in song and offered prayers. At the close of the ceremony, each family in attendance had the opportunity to leave flowers, incense and candles on a table that displayed photos of the general.

Pao died at a hospital in Clovis, Calif., on Jan. 6. He was 81.

Known as a charismatic Laotian general, Pao commanded a secret army financed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Vietnam War. Tens of thousands of Hmong people followed him to Thailand after the unsuccessful end of the war in 1975. Later, Pao achieved almost kinglike status as the Hmong people's leader-in-exile in the United States.

Around 180 Hmong families living in southwest Missouri mourned Pao's passing. Representatives of most of the families were in attendance at the vigil.

View 1 comment
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • Sincere respects & condolences. Ambassador Godley & sons visit general Vang Pao & family in Montana U.S.A at 3minutes35 seconds in

    -- Posted by geogodley on Thu, Jan 20, 2011, at 8:40 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: