Acknowledging and honoring the Lao-Hmong and Americans who fought during the U.S. Secret War in Laos from 1959 - 1975.
Who would have thought a chance meeting at the Denver St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the late 1990’s would lead to this? Yang Chee, the Founder and President of the Lao American Coalition, was among the colorfully attired contingent of Lao-Hmong people in the parade. I was intrigued by Yang Chee’s story and began to read and learn more about the Lao-Hmong people and the Secret War.
Like most Americans, I take pride in our country and what we stand for. Imperfect as we are, I believe we generally seek higher ideals such as those reflected in our Constitution, especially the basic human rights of self-determination and freedom of thought. And, by extension, we should stand by our friends who share these ideals.
The Lao-Hmong shared our ideals and wanted nothing more than to be left in peace to farm and raise their families in the mountains of northern Laos. Through the CIA, America convinced the Lao-Hmong people they had to choose a side and to back our involvement in the Vietnam War by impairing the communist surge toward the south via incursions into Laos. Because Laos had declared itself to be neutral, the war was conducted covertly with the CIA, American military advisors, and American armaments including T-28 single propellor fighter bombers.
The Lao-Hmong fought valiantly. Boys as young as 10 were conscripted to join their fighting forces. As a result, American fighting forces in Vietnam were largely shielded from pincer attacks from Laos by the Hmong and other Laotian fighting forces. There is no way to know all the American lives saved in Vietnam because of the Lao-Hmong, but it’s safe to say in the thousands. 30,000 Lao-Hmong and 728 Americans and their allies died during the Secret War.
In 1975, the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam and Laos. It’s a sad chapter in our country’s history that we turned our back on our Lao-Hmong allies and left them to a despotic communist government bent on genocide. 10,000 Lao-Hmong managed to escape to refugee camps in Thailand and eventually emigrated to the U.S. and other friendly countries. 90,000 stayed behind and suffered the consequences. Today, almost 500,000 people of Lao-Hmong descent live, work, and take pride in being U.S. citizens.
I hope you agree this memorial is important to honor our Lao-Hmong allies and to inform generations to come. Every dollar you give goes toward making this long overdue national memorial a reality.
Your support is crucial to our success!