Peter Vang Honored in California by the Center for Public Policy Analysis, Others
Mr. Yer Peter Vang is honored at Memorial Services in Fresno, California, by Philip Smith of the CPPA, and the Lao Veterans of America
Honoring and Remembering Yer Peter Vang
at Funeral and Memorial Services
June 21-22, 2019
Statement of Philip Smith, Director
Center for Public Policy Analysis
Washington, D.C. Director and Liaison, Lao Veterans of America
Thank you for inviting me to be with you today.
I am deeply saddened at the illness and death of Mr. Yer Peter Vang. I wish to express my heart-felt condolences to Peter's family, friends, community associates and all who knew and loved him.
I first met Peter Vang some twenty five years ago when he traveled to Washington, DC, with a delegation of Lao- and Hmong-American leaders to seek to advocate, with the Lao Veterans of America, on behalf of Laotian and Hmong refugees who were seeking political asylum in Thailand, and resettlement in the United States, as a result of their terrible persecution in Laos by the brutal Communist Pathet Lao regime. Together Peter and I, along with the Lao Veterans of America, and other community leaders from Fresno and the Central Valley, met with Members of the U.S. Congress and other policymakers in Washington, DC, to seek to help those Lao and Hmong refugees still trapped in the refugee camps and jungles in Laos, as well as their families here in the United States try to be reunited with their loved ones. Working together, we were able to help many people during that crucial time, and because of Peter's leadership and work, with many of you, we were able to save many lives and help families have their loved ones rescued and brought from the very real fear and danger of death in Laos, to instead be redeemed and live happy and productive lives in America.
Now Peter Vang is reunited with those he loved and his family members that preceded him in death.
Indeed, I am grateful that I was able to get to know Peter and very thankful to have worked closely with him those many years ago, as well as in recent years, when he served as the Executive Director of the Lao Veterans of America and Lao Veterans of America Institute in Fresno, California.
Clearly, and importantly, Mr. Peter Vang compassionately and selflessly served others, and worked all of his all too brief life to help others. He was an outstanding public servant for Fresno County, a refugee advocate for Southeast Asian and other Asian and minority refugees, and served on the board of directors for a number of key non-profit charitable organizations and foundations, including the Whitney Foundation and Lao Veterans of America. He served as the Executive Director of the Lao Veterans of America, and Lao Veterans of America Institute, for over 3 years. During that time, up until his passing, it is important to note that Peter Vang assisted our offices in Washington, DC to successfully organize and conduct national veterans' recognition ceremonies in Washington, D.C., at the Vietnam War Memorial, U.S. Congress, the White House, and Arlington National Cemetery to honor Lao and Hmong-American veterans and their families, along with Congressmen Jim Costa, Devin Nunes, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Jack Reed, and many other public officials. Peter Vang played a major leadership role, and was greatly encouraging and helpful to me and many others, in the effort to pass into law the "Hmong Veterans Service Recognition Act" which was enacted by Congress as a result of the leadership efforts of Congressman Jim Costa, Congressman Paul Cook, President Cheurchai Vang, Pang Mang Thao, Toua Kue, and others in the U.S. Congress and the Lao Veterans of America.
Peter made many sacrifices for his family, the Asian- , Hmong- and Lao-American community, our Vietnam Veterans and others. I was fortunate to meet some of his family, including his daughter Sarah, whom he brought to Washington DC, Arlington and the White House, last year.
Peter Vang lived a life of service and sacrifice to the community and many of you.
I will always remember Peter's good efforts and encouraging help to me, personally, as well as his crucial labors for the suffering Southeast Asian refugees of the Vietnam War who were so often lost and forgotten in Thailand and Laos, as well as the Lao and Hmong-American veterans and their families in the Central Valley and across the United States.
Peter Vang's last communications and words with me, last month, before he died, were about his wishing us our success in Washington, DC at national memorial ceremonies to honor the Lao and Hmong Vietnam Veterans who served in defense of the Royal Kingdom of Laos, and their refugee families, at Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam War Memorial and the U.S. Congress. Peter helped us organize these historic ceremonies in Washington that were successfully conducted on May 14-15, 2019, under the leadership of President Cheurchai Vang, just three days before Peter sadly died. Peter also repeatedly and happily spoke with me about his plans to attend his son's wedding in Japan, whom he was very proud of, especially because of his son's service in the U.S. Marine Corps and his son's new Japanese bride.
We know Yer Peter Vang will always be with us, to help us, and encourage us.
Our prayers and thoughts are with Peter and his family and all of you gathered here today, and over the coming days, to help to remember and honor him.
Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA)