Sample History Paper on General Vang Pao
Hmong people descended from Southeast Asia majorly from Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. They are referred to as Asian Americans and from one major group of Asian Americans working and are living in major states in the US. Due to the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese assault of Laos, and the Laotian War, many of the Hmong people settled in the United States. During the wars, many of the Hmong refugees fled because of arbitrary persecution, military invasions, and ethnic cleansing majorly at the hands of the Communist and Marxist forces. Many of the fleeing Hmong people were granted asylum as refugees. Currently, the population of the Hmong people in states such as Michigan, Oregon, Alaska, Oklahoma, and North Carolina has significantly increased. Apart from the last batch of refugees who were received between the years 2004-2005, the population has continued to rise with the 2015 US census results putting their population at 260,000. Popular leaders of Hmong descent have led the community and have had major impacts on their lives. Despite their controversial and obscure immigration history, the Hmong continue to gain political and social recognition with some of their leaders making significant national relevance. This article looks at the life, times, contributions, and impact of General Vang Pao (Vaj Pov), a leader in the community in recent times.
General Vang Pao
Born in Central Xiangkhuang Province in 1929, Vang Pao began his early life in the farms. His father He began his military life when the Japanese invaded and launched an assault in French Indochina during the Second World War (Vang et al 1). He joined the military as a teenager when he joined the French Military in order to offer security and protection to his people. Although it is not clear as to the manner in which he joined the military because of the necessity of an exam, research and studies show that he cheated on his exams in which a captain within the military assisted him to undertake the exam. However, the truths behind the allegations are still obscure.
After the Second World War, Vang Pao was recruited as an officer. Despite the French lost the war, Vang continued his career in the army and continues to remain as the only person of Hmong community to have attained the general Officer Rank within the Royal Lao Army. He remained a strong and adherent champion of his people fighting against the Vietnamese and Pathet Lao in order to protect his people in the early and late 1970s (Vue 751).
Life in the United States
When the communists took over power in 1975 in Laos, Major General Vang migrated to the US and remained a respected member of the Hmong community. Many of the Hmong faced challenges towards and during the wars that they faced in the United States. His military accomplishments remain significant achievements amongst the Hmong community, making him one of the most respected and revered people. He has remained influential both within the Hmong community and beyond. Although he is not popular amongst the younger generation of the Hmong people, General Vang still commands respect even among current leaders. He brought together Hmong leaders and formed the United Lao National Liberation Front, commonly referred to as “Lao National Liberation Movement”, a political movement within the Hmong community (Vang et al 1).
Through the movement, General Vang remained an influential figure amongst the Hmong people, a movement that helped him put together members of his community and secured their heritage despite the effect of their war-torn nationhood. Through the movement and by the use of American diplomatic ties, General Vang stopped mandatory repatriation of Hmong refugees back to their country. Many of the refugees in Thailand received rights and assistance to stay in the United States, a move that puts General Vang in the limelight amongst the Hmong people. He remained a strong figure in campaigning for their rights in addition to their relevance and significance within the American society. He opposed numerous human rights abuses by the leaders of Laos against his own community. Vang Pao publicly advocated for equal treatment and fair judgment of the indigenous Hmong community. Through his diplomatic ties, Vang Pao pushed for equal rights and fair treatment of his ethnic community in addition to advocating for representation in the government of the United States (Vang et al 1).
Allegations of a Political Coup
In 2007, the United States Court issued an order for the arrest of Vang Pao and his followers with the accusation of plans to overthrow the regime of Laos. Previously, the government of Laos remained an enemy of the United States in which Vang Pao was a point man for the US government in fighting accused of going against the federal Neutrality Acts. Vang Pao was arrested along with his a dent follower’s and was charged with possession of deadly weapons and intent to acquire String missiles, grenades, and guns destined for Thailand from where they were to be moved to their allies inside Laos. Vang and his followers were arraigned in court on 15 June 2007 and were faced with numerous weapons charges. Additionally, they were denied bail and were considered as a threat to national security.
Following his arrest, numerous protests were organized by his allies throughout the states of North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, and California. The court was bitterly criticized with arguments that Vang Pao was a historically respected figure amongst the Hmong community and a vital American follower. Calls to the then governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger are yet to be answered. Various claims have been put forth against Vang Pao on his involvement in drug trafficking and war crimes, with many scholars disputing the claims. Prior to his arrest, Vang Pao was scheduled to join Madison School, however, the school board removed his name because of the allegations he faced in court. Despite his arrest, detention, and attempts to link him to war crimes and trafficking, Vang Pao remained an influential figure amongst the Hmong community with many of the indigenous Hmong immigrants looking up to him as their de facto leader, spiritually and politically. The US government’s attempt to silence the protest fell on deaf ears as many rallies and protests were organized for his release and freedom. His month long stay in detention marked a significant period amongst the Hmong people as they saw the incident as a form of oppression and violation of their rights to having a leader amongst themselves (Vang et al 1).
Release from Detention
Vang Pao’s diplomatic connections came in handy during his month-long detention. Pressure from high-ranking Americans in addition to Hmong’s persistent protests pressured the United States government to order for his release. On 12 July 2007, Vang Pao was thus released on a bond of US$1. 5 million. His release further cemented the relationship of the Hmong people and served as a reminder that they faced undue pressure to alienate them and subdue them to inhuman conditions. They were more than joyful. The month-long protests within California and other states eventually culminated in nationwide celebrations for the Hmong people. At the time, Vang Pao stood out as a de-facto leader of the Hmong community and commanded a lot of respect both for his people and for numerous American Diplomats who had pushed diplomatically for his release.
In 2009, his lawyers filed a motion in court to dismiss off the allegations as they argued that the charges were fabricated and had no space in court. However, the judge, Judge Frank Damrell, dismissed the petition claiming that the evidence had no justification to a dismissal (Vue 751). However, on September 18, 2009, the federal government dismissed all charges against Vang Pao considering the probable consequences if he was convicted. He remained an influential figure even after his release and continued to champion for equal treatment of the Hmong community in addition to seeking for their recognition within the United States government and civil society. The Hmong community, on the other hand, remained loyal to Vang Pao’s ideals and teachings that focused on respect to humanity fight against human rights abuses and remaining true to the cultural heritage of Hmong teachings.
General Vang Pao died at the age of 81 after battling heart complications and diabetes in 2011. He died at Clovers Community Medical Center. His funeral services and preparations were slated for a period of six days that started on 4 February up to the time of his burial. Over 10,000 mourners attended his burial at the Arlington National Cemetery (Vue (752).
Significance and Contribution
Vue (749) assert that the successful and historical movement of the people of Hmong community from Laos to the United States remained a significant milestone for Vang Pao. After Lao was seized, he played a key role in assembling fellow influential Hmong leaders around the world to champion for a unified front and organization that helped politically identify the Hmong community. The United Lao National Liberation Front remained one of his ideas that helped put together members of the Hmong community to champion for their ideas and recognition. Additionally, through his diplomatic ties, Vang Pao helped many Hmong people to receive official relocation to the United States, a move that enabled his people to chart a future in a peaceful and promising future. He remained the brainchild of Hmong unity all through the 90s working towards political relevance and social significance of his people. He clicked a niche amongst the political leaders both in the state of California and in Congress who helped him to champion the interests of the People of Hmong.
Despite the fact that he was in the United States, Vang Pao continued to advocate for equal treatment of his fellow Hmong people in Lao who faced political persecution and human rights abuses. He advocated for peace and cordial relations between the Lao government and the US in a bid to address the violations against the indigenous Hmong community.
According to Vue (749), the people of Hmong, General Vang Pao remained a legacy that goes beyond his heroic acts in war and in public. He is considered a savior amongst the people of the Hmong community. His interaction and friendship with the CIA leader, Col Lair changed and sealed the fate of the people of Hmong. By fighting alongside the Americans against the communist nations, Vang Pao’s legacy marked a significant operation that the United States ever took to reign in terror and undiplomatic leaders.
Besides the wars, Vang Pao developed a passion for uplifting the lives of his people by building schools, health centers, and social recreational facilities that remained as historic marks in and during his life. He further opened up chances for women to partake in the Nurse Troop unimaginable milestone at the time in the history of the Hmong people and in the United States. Young girls championed their ways to great heights in male-dominated fields, a feat that changed the historical culture of the Hmong people. Vue (751), argues that although he did not have any significant formal education, Vang Pao, aided and championed for access to education by establishing a teacher training facility meant for his community members, a milestone that brought the significant rise of young men and women in positions of leadership within the community. It marked the first time in the history of the Hmong people to access education and learning facilities.
From an outsider’s point of view, his greatest achievement was uniting the people of Hmong amidst war. He had a unique way of connecting with his people, a feature that propelled him to great heights of relevance in the history of American politics and social circles. Research and studies claim that had the Americans won the Vietnam War, General Vang Pao could have been the first Prime Minister of Lao. However, despite the turn of events after the war, he continued to command respect, admiration, and reverence amongst his people and world leaders. Amongst the Hmong people, he remained a true spiritual leader, more like a prophet and became a household name amongst the people of Hmong. Although much of his achievement can be attributed to his military work, upon arriving in the United States, he took a central role as a diplomat for the people of Hmong. He is recognized as the brilliant idea behind the 18-Clan Council, an outfit within the Hmong community mandated with the responsibility of facilitating, regulating, and advocating for the people of Hmong communities in the United States. He was instrumental in advocating for the passage of the Hmong Veterans Naturalization Act of 2000 that gave them the right to participate in elections and get benefits, a feat that enabled many Hmong people to get political offices (Vue, 750). Despite his suffering even at the hands of the American government, General Vang Pao remained passionate about his ideals for the people of Hmong. He remains a key figure for the restoration and the resurgence of the Hmong community in the 21st century. According to researchers, Vang Poa remains as the most outstanding leader of the Hmong community to restore the pride of a people faced with extinction amidst war, human rights abuses, and persecution.
Vang, Nengher N. and Jeremy Hein. “Hmong American Leadership and Unity in the Post-Vang Pao Era.” Hmong Studies Journal 16 (2015): 1.
Vue, Pao. “The Vietnam War and Its Impacts on the Hmong.” Geopolitics20.4 (2015): 749-752.