Events Memorials

Hmong Veterans Honored at the State Captitol

Monday’s candlelight vigil at the California State Capitol to honor veterans of the Secret War in Laos was definitely a memorable event. Veterans from Fresno to Chico traveled to Sacramento to take part in the ceremony. They were joined by family members and a wide range of community members, including Elk Grove Vice Mayor Steve Ly  (event organizer),  State Assemblyman Jim Cooper, and  U.S. Raven pilots Joe Scheimer and Tom Palmer,  who fought along side Hmong, Mien, and Lao soldiers in the “other theater” of the Vietnam War.


Photo: Soldiers gather on the West Steps of the Capitol


Photo: U.S. Raven pilots Tom Palmer and Joe Scheimer


Photo: Soldiers receiving their medals of honor from Elk Grove Vice Mayor Steve Ly for their service to the U.S. during the Secret War in Laos.


Photo: Gail Desler with grieving widow walking to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial/Rose Garden. 

After awarding each soldier with a medal to honor their service to the U.S., Steve Ly invited the crowd to take a candle and then walk from the West Steps of the Capitol to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Although less than a five minute walk, this part of the ceremony provided us with opportunities for rich conversations. To be hugged by a Hmong grandmother, for example, still grieving the loss of her husband, but wanting to warmly thank us for attending the ceremony and caring about their refugee community is a moment we will remember for a long time to come.


Photo: Elk Grove Vice Mayor Steve Ly addressing the soldiers at the candlelight vigil in the rose garden near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. 

It was gratifying to open Tuesday’s front page of the SacBee to a spotlight photo of a young child holding the photo of her grandfather, as the family made their way to the podium.

We were also pleased to have the SacBee reference the Vietnam War section of our Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project.

Gail and Kathleen

tor talks


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