Hmong are ‘truly American, if not more American than most Americans’

Sheng Lee Riechers remembers attending Neenah school and community events where military veterans were asked to stand and be recognized for their service to the country.Her father, a Hmong soldier who fought communist forces under the direction of the U.S. government during the Vietnam War, would always hesitate to stand, unsure of how he would be received.”I was like, ‘Dad, get up. You fought in the war,'” Riechers recalled. “It was always really awkward for him. I wish more people understood the history of why Hmong people are here and that Hmong people are truly American, if not more American than most Americans. They fought for the country, and they fought for freedom.”Hmong soldiers aren’t officially recognized as U.S. veterans, but they were staunch allies of the U.S. and paid a heavy price during and after the war. Once U.S. forces withdrew from Vietnam, the victors persecuted Hmong soldiers and their families for helping the U.S.

…(UW-Green Bay faculty member) Pao Lor, a 49-year-old Kimberly resident, was born in Laos and left as a child.

His family had sided with the U.S. during the Vietnam War. When the U.S. pulled out, his family went into hiding as part of the resistance to communist forces. His father was assassinated by the resistance after he left a hiding place to seek outside resources like rice and salt in violation of the group’s rules.

When Lor’s family fled Laos for Thailand, his mother drowned while crossing the Mekong River.

Lor spent time in the refugee camps in Thailand before arriving in Long Beach, California. In 1980, he moved to Green Bay, where his uncle had settled and the crime rate was lower.

“Many of us were 6-, 7-, 8-, 9-, 10-years old,” he said. “So for many of us, America was really our home. We could say, ‘This is going to be something where we’re going to stay for a very long time.’ Otherwise, prior to that, we were constantly moving.”

Source: Hmong are ‘truly American, if not more American than most Americans’

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