AAP staff report
ST. PAUL (April 2, 2014) — Minnesota State Sen. Foung Hawj (67-DFL) on Wednesday announced that the proposed Hmong-Lao Veterans Memorial, a journey that began a decade ago, is once again nearing the final stages of possible funding for a memorial on the State Capitol grounds
After overcoming numerous setbacks the project fundraising committee reached it’s $150,000 goal just this past weekend, according to a letter to the newspaper from Hawj.
“I was proud to be there during the final gift presentation that made the tally official,” Hawj said. “Both the House and Governor have included the $450,000 bonding request in their recommendations, and I am hoping the Senate’s version (SF 651) will include it as well.”
With similar memorials already completed or planned in other states including Wisconsin and California, the Hmong-Lao Veterans Memorial would be the first of its kind in Minnesota.
“It symbolizes the right to be here in Minnesota and is designed to be all-inclusive representing six different groups of people who fought during the war,” Hawj said. “This symbol is long overdue, and it’s my hope we can finish it soon before even more veterans who served in the war are gone. Many first generation soldiers who came to America after the war have already left us, it’s important to the Hmong and Lao people to show them our respect before it’s too late.
Hawj said the Minnesota Hmong-Lao Veterans Memorial Committee should be commended for their years of hard work. The site for the future memorial is ready and waiting, just south of the Vietnam Memorial among the Capitol grounds in St. Paul.
The required money has been raised for the cost of the memorial. One of the final financial hurdles is for the memorial bill to be included in this legislative session’s bonding bill.
In a related event in North St. Paul recently, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) discussed the crucial role that Hmong fighters in Laos played in aiding U.S. efforts during the Vietnam War era.
Franken told more 200 leaders and members of Minnesota’s Hmong community that the Hmong-Americans who fought in the jungles of neighboring Laos in support of the United States during the Vietnam conflict should be recognized for their efforts that saved the lives of manyAmerican soldiers and pilots.
At the event, he outlined his efforts to make Hmong-Americans who fought on the U.S. side eligible to be buried in U.S. national cemeteries, and his support for state efforts to build a memorial honoring Hmong veterans near the State Capitol.