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As I See It

Honor Hmong soldiers, before it is too late

Scott Robert Shaw

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It is a proposal long overdue. Wisconsin lawmakers are considering creating a new state holiday, Hmong-Lao Veterans Day. It would be celebrated May 14, to recognize their contributions to helping the United States fight the war in Vietnam. It was back in the early sixties when Hmong soldiers in Laos took up arms to help the U.S., many of them helping treat our pilots when they were shot down. Their service has not been formally honored with a holiday, but that could change with a vote in the Legislature. Supporters say such an honor is long overdue, nearly 5 decades after the war. Interestingly, these Hmong soldiers fought for our ideas of democracy even before they themselves became U.S. citizens. Many were relocated to the U.S. and Wisconsin was a popular destination. It was difficult at first, but the Hmong have assimilated well, and have gone on to serve as La Crosse police officers or school board members. It is estimated there are nearly 1000 Hmong war veterans currently living in Wisconsin. Their service and sacrifice should be honored, but not just ceremonially. They should also be eligible for VA benefits. We need to show our gratitude for their service, before it is too late.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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