Yesterday was the 40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. This article about Choua Thao, a Hmong nurse during The Secret War is so inspiring… In this video interview by HmongStory40, she talks about some of her work. I am inspired by her strength through it all and also I love the part where she mentions she will still speak to the dead bodies and explain what she is doing during an autopsy. Even death did not prevent her from respecting them as individuals and giving them some sort of spiritual closure.
“The United States was not officially supposed to be in Laos through an international agreement signed in 1962. So the CIA fought communism in Laos through a secret army. Though other indigenous populations were recruited, much of the army was Hmong. The Hmong army was used to rescue downed American fighters, combat Communist forces in Laos and cause havoc on North Vietnamese forces along the Ho Chi Minh trail … After the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam and the Lao Communist forces took over the country, the Hmong and other allies of the U.S. were targeted for death” (Moua, 2015).
[Ban Vinai refugee camp where I was born]
This event in history continues to impact the Hmong communities today and for some of us, our own families. My father was a teen soldier and being the only person who can swim, he swam each member of his family across the Mekong River to get to the Thailand Refugee camp. My mother lost all her brothers and her mother during the exodus. She would talk about how by the time it was safe to go and dig a grave for her mother, the body was already stiff and they had to bury her like that. We will always remember the countless lives lost, especially the children, those who were abandoned and those dead from opium overdose intended to silence their cries. Whatever our stories, they have greatly impacted our lives. Let us always remember to appreciate our elders for their bravery, courage, and strength, and for the lives we now have which would’ve been impossible if not for them.
Were you or anyone you know survivors of war? How did that impact you or them?
Moua, Kyle. (2015, April 30). Choua Thao: Female Hmong Veteran Reflects on Secret War. New America Media: War and Conflict. Retrieved from http://newamericamedia.org/2015/04/-choua-thao-wasnt-like.php