Hmong leader honored in Wausau - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Hmong leader honored in Wausau

A Hmong leader during the Vietnam war was honored in central Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin-Marathon County hosted a ceremony to remember the Laotian general Pao Vang who died in 2011.

"He is the most prominent Hmong person we have in history," said Eric Giordano, the director of the Wisconsin Institute of Public Policy and Service.

General Pao led a secret army of mountain people against communist insurgents during the Vietnam War.

"He was a charismatic leader who worked closely with the American government and really helped to lead the Hmong people in their efforts to prevent communist takeover of their homeland," said Giordano.

He spoke at UWMC in 2009 about domestic violence issues.

"He was very friendly and very interested in this issue and being here and invited here," said Giordano.

But what about students now?

"Many of them know the name, they just don't know who he is," said Yee Leng Xiong, the director of the UWMC Multicultural Center.

Xiong wanted to change that. One day, he was walking around campus and saw a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. He thought it would be a good idea to have another picture next to him.

"I talked to the dean about possibly putting pictures of General Vang Pao because he was a distinguished guest who came to the university," said Xiong.

The dean said yes.

"Two pictures of General Vang Pao will be placed up here as recognition when General Pao spoke here in 2009," said Xiong.

As a member of the Hmong community, Xiong says he's proud the pictures will be hung.

"I'm glad something like this happened because it shows that not only the community is recognizing the Hmong population, but it's also recognizing the Hmong people as one of their own," said Xiong.

He hopes the pictures will help students remember him.

"It's going to serve as a reminder of the legacy that was left behind by General Vang Pao,” said Xiong.

Pao's son Pa Cheng Vang was the guest speaker Wednesday night.
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