Lao, Hmong and American Veterans Memorial



The ”making” of the Lao, Hmong and American Veterans Memorial 

in Deland Park, Sheboygan, Wisconsin. By: Xia Vue Yang, Steve Schofield

  • How or who came up with the memorial idea and when?
    • While serving as a Board member of  the Lao, Hmong American Coalition, Steve Schofield suggested that we should start gathering names for a memorial, which he said should be similar to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington.In the year of 2000, A local Attorney named Tim Hall who served on the Board of Directors of the Hmong Association, and who did not know much about the Hmong, called Steve and asked if he would help to build a Memorial.Steve Schofield, Tim Hall and Vue Yang did the first presentation to the Mayor James Schramm of Sheboygan and to Terry Van Akkeren, chairman of Public work committee, showing his slides.  At that meeting VIPs people said they would not support the Memorial.The Special Forces Association, Chapter 73 was the first veteran’s organization to support the project and CoL. Steve Leopold, CSM Bernie Jene and Steve went to the first city council meeting in uniform to ask for support. Chapter 73 also trained the SGU veterans to march in   parades and marched with them for many years, which also raised the community’s awareness.Tim asked what was the most and significant relationship between the Lao, Hmong and the American during the secret war. An idea was suggested: Hmong soldiers saving the life of an American pilot shot down and crashed in the battle field. We came up with a design, and met with local officials, and were voted down by the city council at that time. In 2004, the project was resuscitated again after the majority of the newly elected council was in favor for our  committee to pursue the idea of Memorial. Terry Van Akkeren, then chairman of the Public Works, re-activated the project, and we (through the board of directors of HMAA) asked the Dean of UW-Sheboygan Ray Hernandez to co-chair the committee with Xia Vue Yang.


  • How did you come up with the design idea?
    • After listening to what was voted down in prior committee’s proposal, and after knowing that the city council in 2004 has proposed Deland Park to house the new Memorial, Dean Hernandez and Architect Steve Jaeger came up with a circular design to match with the environment of the Park. Dean Ray Hernandez designed the current Memorial which is being built today.


  • How much did it cost to build the memorial?
    • $140,000 approx. However, we have spent about $12,000 to build the center piece of the Memorial. The center piece was completed and dedicated in May 2010, in honor of the Hmong SGU women and children during the US secret War in Laos. They were to ones who much suffered emotionally while waiting for their husbands or fathers to come homes.


  • How many people were involved in the Mosaics?
    • 900 Sheboygan Area students help on the design of the Mosaics, Hmong and non-Hmong 350 Volunteers helped to put, glue, caulk, and grout the Mosaics, 500+ people contributed financially, Local and out of State foundations, Individuals and businesses.


  • Why did you choose Deland Park?
    • Many different sites in city parks were chosen, and based on the “goal” of the Memorial: – To honor and recognize the Lao, Hmong and American who died during the US secret War in Laos, – To educate older and younger generation of people locally as well as nationally, Deland Park was proposed and voted on and passed.


  • What is the difference between this memorial and others?
    • This Memorial is Unique in the US and maybe in the world. It’s to recognize and to honor the people who served and who died for the US secret war. It’s not to “Glorify war, but to explain…It’s to honor the lowest rank of soldiers to top, and not the top ranking officers only.


  • Why did you pick Sheboygan to build the monument?
    • It could have been anywhere. The reason why this one is built in Sheboygan, because currently, there are about 6000 Hmong, and strong leadership, excellent relationship with city officials and local companies. When the monument is built, it needs to be maintained, watched over, and mainly responsible for. Only Sheboygan can do it.


  • Is this Memorial just for Hmong veterans?
    • No. This Memorial is for Lao, Hmong, and American who: – Have served in the US secret war in Laos and have  Contributed ($100) to build the Memorial – Have been killed in Action (KIA) during the US secret war in  Laos.


  • What do you hope this Memorial will serve?
    • Our main goals: – The Memorial will serve as a reminder, a recognition why the Lao and Hmong came to the USA – To teach all children, Hmong as well as non-Hmong, about the courage and the sacrifice of the people whose names are engraved in the Memorial. Without their sacrifices, we would have not been here.


  • How many names of veterans do you now have?
    • Approx. 1000 of the KIA in Laos, 2500 of those who served and have contributed financially to build the Memorial, and 700 of the US pilots, Special Forces, and military officers.


  • What is the total Hmong SGU killed in Laos during the secret war?
    • Approx. 35,000 to 40,000 people, about 12-13 % of the Hmong Population at that time.


  • Do you have any spaces/panels left for those veterans that would like to add their names in the future?
    • There are still plenty of spaces available for those who qualify.


  • How much will it cost and who can they contact?
    • $100 per name.However, this fee is waved for all “Killed In Action” (KIA) SGU veterans. Contact the Lao, Hmong and American Veterans Memorial Committee, Mr. Xia Vue Yang at 2304 Superior Avenue, Sheboygan, WI 53081, Cell. (920) 946-0467 for further information.


  • Beside the text and names, what is the circular shape and mosaic mean?
    • The circular shape is to match the other structures already in Deland Park.The Mosaics tell: – The story of daily life before and after the secret war of the  Lao, Hmong and American who suffered and died. – The Culture and the psychological emotions of the younger Generations born in Thailand and in the US. – The difference group in Hmong society.


  • Can you briefly describe the monument?
    • The Memorial contains 24 panels made of black granite. Twelve are for names engraving, and 12 for narrative texts. In the center, there is  mosaic design of a piece of Hmong needle work (Paj Ntaub), Symbolizing Hmong women’s contribution to the US secret war in Laos.