LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – A new memorial statue at Veterans Freedom Park is meant to honor and represent Hmong and Lao people who fought alongside the United States during the Vietnam War.
Organizers and community leaders said it’s a physical reminder to people who sometimes forget that the Hmong and Lao people made sacrifices to contribute to the community.
“The statue means that we have something concrete for our younger generation to look at and say, ‘Hey, these are statues that represent what my great-grandparents and the Hmong elders did back in the secret war,”’ Hmong Culture and Community Agency Naohoua Tony Yang said.
Yang also said that over 35,000 Hmong men and women gave their lives for freedom.
“The Hmong people have been here for over years,” Yang said. ” And I know that the Vietnam War and the Secret Wars kind of get lost in the shuffles sometimes… I think today belongs to the men and women who sacrificed a lot for the freedom we celebrate.”
Community leaders like Veteran Louis Ferris helped raise over $40,000 for the project–all through donations.
“They don’t realize how much the Hmong fought for America,” Ferris said. “They fought in combat along with American soldiers. They gave up their whole way of life…A lot of them sacrificed their futures for our today.”
Hmong and Lao community members are grateful that the La Crosse community build the statue to recognize their service.
“This shows that La Crosse is a great community and we have so many kind people and so many people who are willing to give for a good cause,” Yang said. “We are very proud to be a part of this community. We’ll continue to support this community for as long as we live here.”
This is the fourth memorial that Louis Ferris has helped construct at Freedom Memorial Park. It took one year to complete.
Congressman Ron Kind and La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat also spoke at the dedication ceremony, thanking the Hmong and Lao community for their service–which they say is long overdue.