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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.

The Loss of General Vang Pao Is the Loss of a Father by Ia Vang '11


30 Years of change our Father brought to us.

I cannot say the words I want to say for they will not satisfy, nor I can speak about the empty feeling and the sadness that had emerged into my heart. Our loving Father, Savior, Prophet, and Hero General Vang Pao had passed away. It took me awhile to be able to bring forth the courage and my sad heart to be able to write this piece.

It has been two weeks since the death of our loving Father. The Hmong community and across the nation and around this world mourn for him. Many may not know who he is. He is not just a typical Hmong leader nor a hero to the Hmong community, but had made a great impact to America. I cannot stress enough how important he is to the Hmong community and to America as a whole.

General Vang Pao was our hope. The elders say he was a prophet, an angel, a savior that came to us, to lead and guide us and love us. He was not just a leader, he was the helping hand that reached for us, the vision to bring us to a better future and brought us over to America. He was the bridge for the Hmong. His death brought eternal heartbreaks, grief and millions of tears. His hands brought hope, life and an identity for all of us. He brought opportunities and dreams to us. He gave the younger generation  chances to dream, a road to succeed and gear us toward the path of intelligence and knowledge.

Our father was a Lieutenant during the Vietnam War, the Hmong leader who worked with the CIA during the Secret War. He stood for peace, freedom and love. Our Father General Vang Pao was the first Hmong to get his U.S. citizenship. He sacrificed his life to save the Hmong. The Hmong were called, “Miao” and our Father General Vang Pao erased that name and gave us the name Hmong. We were called terrorists and he fought to get rid of that label. He and the rest of the Hmong men who had contributed their lives for the Hmong and Americans will forever be remembered.  He was a peaceful fighter of human rights and democracy. He had big visions for his people.

His last words pierced through me as I sat through a gathering at Lao Family for him. His last words motivate me--words of love for his Hmong people and words that we must love each other. His love I will not forget. His visions I will not let go.

Our Father General Vang Pao wanted us to love each other. Nws xav kom Hmoob hlub Hmoob. He may take the last name Vang but not once did he say “My Vangs, he says, My Hmong people.” Then why are we so ignorant? Some of us do not care. Some of us do not respond and some of us live as if nothing had ever happened. Is this why our Father had left us? With his leaving, will we let our culture die out? Some blame him for our loss of our culture, but I do not. I know deeply inside of each of us lives a deep respect for him.

If we were to live back in Laos right now, I would be holding a kid, married and farming all my life. If we were to live back in Laos right now, the Hmong would have never been heard of. If we were back in Laos, we would have died out already. The Indonesian War, the French taking over, we would had not sustain it. There would not be Hmong today. Me, you, him, her, we, they would had not been here.

The elders, the survivors of the Vietnam War and the Hmong families are eternally wounded by this loss. The news of his passing made everyone mourn. The sorrow within our hearts will never go away. To see Hmong men cry for our Father had made me open my eyes. My Father General Vang Pao taught me that being Hmong will always be my identity, he taught me to embrace it and expose it to others.

On January 23rd, 2011, I witnessed the tears upon my people. I saw the many flowers along with the white drapes across the walls as we sat and listened to the remembrance of Hmong veterans, Hmong women and Hmong scholars. I witnessed the sad atmosphere. Our Father’s last word left a print in my heart in a way that sadden me deeply.

I fear for our Hmong community, for the younger generations. Our Father had always wanted us to love each other. He says he cannot give us back our country, but he had brought opportunities for all of us. He brought us “kev vam meeg thiab txoj kev kawm.”

Today our children are not starving because of our Father. Today we have college, Mastersand PHD graduates because of our Father. Today we get a chance to go to school because of our Father. Today the Hmong is now known because of our Father. Today we have Hmong doctors, teachers, lawyers and politicians because of our Father General Vang Pao.

We get a chance to dream, an education, and flourish in life because of him.

Today he is gone, forever.  We cannot wake him back up. Our Hmong are still left behind, fighting the Secret War. Our Hmong people are dying, and some of you stand there and say, “ I don’t care.”  Some of you stand there and say, “So, sooner or later he will die.” It is people like you that our Father had worked so hard for, for you to be able to understand the importance of uniting and coming together.

Do you not see the newspaper articles that only talk about his 2007 incident? Do you not have eyes to see what he have done? Have a heart to feel this grief and eternal sorrow his passing had brought us? If we do not honor him who will? If we do not love each other, who will? The world will look at us and judge us at how well we honor our Father, our Leader, so please look and feel.

Our loving Father General Vang Pao, we can never ever pay you back, sacrifice as much and love you as much as you did.

Kuv yauv nxo txog koj. Koj tus txiab ntsis, koj lub siab dawb npau hlub peb.

I will always remember you and fight for your vision. I will hear you and keep your words in my heart.

Thank you.