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I Am Hmong

At Patrick Henry High School, we value and appreciate the presence of Hmong students in our community. This page will showcase staff and student work around Hmong language and culture.

Patrick Henry High School Contingent Pays Respects to Family of General Vang Pao

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I am Tom Murray, a teacher at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis. On behalf of our Administration, Staff, Students and Community Supporters at Patrick Henry,  I would like to thank Lao Family Services for allowing us  to express our deepest sympathies to the family of General Vang Pao.

Our staff and students have shared their memories and deep love for General Vang Pao in essays in our classrooms and on our Web site. One Hmong student wrote: General Vang Pao was our loving Father, Savior, Prophet, and Hero. Let’s look at each of those roles.

As a hero, beginning as a young man General Vang Pao fought against the Japanese in World War II, a war that took the life of my Uncle Tommy Murray. Later in General Vang Pao’s life, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency called him the greatest hero of the Vietnam War. We at Patrick Henry, the home of the Patriots are especially grateful for the sacrifices that General Vang Pao has made  for us. That sacrifice includes the overwhelming loss of Hmong lives that were made for the United States. We will never forget.

As a savior, General Vang Pao led the Hmong from battlegrounds and refugee camps from Southeast Asia to safety and freedom across the world. We are grateful that the largest number of Hmong settled in the United States of America, especially in Minnesota where you have given new life to our society, and reminded us of the importance of strong families and a strong work ethic.

As a father General Vang Pao is revered as a leader who knew his people by name, flesh of their flesh, bone of their bone. Patrick Henry students tell us stories of intense grief of their families because General Vang Pao was more than a leader, he was a member of the family. Our father.

As a prophet General Vang Pao clearly saw the future of the Hmong in fighting battles, but not battles with bombs and bullets, but battles with books,… battles to win the hearts and minds of Hmong children with a love of learning and scholarship. In my office at Patrick Henry, directly behind the desk of my brother Peter Yang is a large poster of General Vang Pao urging all of us to read.  No other immigrant people has ever come to America so ill prepared, and yet achieved so much and in such a short time, as the Hmong. General Vang Pao knew that the future of the Hmong rested on the success of our children in schools and later in colleges and universities. Our Hmong children have succeeded because they do not quit. This strength can be traced back to the words and example of General Vang Pao.

I pleaded with my Hmong brothers at Patrick Henry not to speak before you today, because I am but a tiny speck in this room of giant men and women, a great people led and molded by General Vang Pao. What can I possibly offer you—the people that have given me so much? 

I offer my sympathies in this difficult time and my respect for your culture and traditions. To all who ask the question, Who are you? Who is Tom Murray? I respond, I am Hmong.  I am proud to work at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis where we say that, We are Hmong.

Thank you to the great Hmong People and thank you, General Vang Pao.