Fresno celebrated Hmong American Day on Saturday at the Fresno Center, paying homage to the Hmong people’s contributions in United States history.
Most notably, the sacrifices Hmong people while fighting alongside the United States during the Vietnam War.
This year marked the 48th anniversary of the final airlift of Hmong and Lao veterans who fought in the Vietnam War.
Fresno announced an official proclamation, with Mayor Jerry Dyer stating the city is the first in California to officially to commemorate Hmong American Day.
Saturday’s celebration highlighted Hmong Americans history and cultural contributions in Fresno and beyond.
“We honor the legacy of the Hmong people who served, were wounded and lost their lives,” Fresno Dyer said. “To insure the U.S. remains the land of the free knowing, we forever owe a debt of gratitude to their sacrifice.
“And the city of Fresno recognizes the important cultural social political economic contributions of Hmong Americans that provide generational enrichment and enhancement to the city across many sectors including business, education, public safety and government.”
During the Vietnam War, CIA officers had trained and armed Hmong hill tribe and ethnic minority to act as a guerilla force as part of a “Secret War” to prevent communism from spreading deeper into Southeast Asia.
Some 14 years later toward the end of the war, the Hmong were fighting battles against Communist insurgents and their North Vietnamese allies, according to NPR.
Many Hmong refugees and their families then went on to immigrate to the United States.
Today, Fresno has the second largest Hmong population in the country, behind only Minneapolis, with roughly 35,000 people living in the region.