Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) honored Lao- and
Hmong-American veterans who aided the United States during the Vietnam War at a
wreath-laying ceremony before Arlington Cemetery’s Lao Veterans Monument
today. In remarks, Whitehouse offered a remembrance of the heroism of
Hmong and Lao soldiers during the Vietnam War, which claimed tens of thousands
of lives in Laos. Whitehouse was joined by several Lao and Hmong veterans
and their families, including a large contingent from Rhode Island.
“We will always remember the bravery of those
Hmong troops and their dedication to fight for democracy and to protect the
lives of so many young Americans at war in Southeast Asia,” said Whitehouse,
whose father served as Ambassador to Laos during the Vietnam War and later
joined the effort to recognize Lao- and Hmong-Americans’ service.
Earlier this year, the President signed into
law Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Whitehouse’s Hmong Veterans Service
Recognition Act to allow the burial of naturalized Lao and Hmong veterans in
veterans’ cemeteries around the country.
The ceremony took place in front of a plaque
dedicated to Hmong and Lao veterans. “It is a fitting honor for those
brave combat veterans that they lie beside old comrades-in-arms, a way of
keeping the promise inscribed on this memorial plaque, which pledges that the
Hmong and Lao veterans’ ‘patriotic valor and loyalty in the defense of liberty
and democracy will never be forgotten,’” Whitehouse added.
The Lao Veterans of America (LVA) organized today’s
wreath laying. Members of the LVA include surviving Lao- and
Hmong-American soldiers and airmen who served during the Vietnam War. The
LVA is active in states around the country that are home to Lao and Hmong
communities, including Rhode Island.