A spokeswoman for Clovis Community Medical Center confirmed Thursday, January 6, 2011 that revered Hmong leader and former general Vang Pao from the Royal Army of Laos died Thursday after being hospitalized for about 10 days at Clovis Community Medical Center.
Read The GVP Phenomenon, originally published on Feb 10, 2010.
His voice is soft —weak at best, from years of yelling over the sound of bombs being dropped and old age. Often, he utters nothing, but the entire world hears him. When actions speak louder than words: A story about the silent phenomenon of General Vang Pao.
He is a walking hero, a legend who is still living and breathing among us. What makes one a legend in his community? Although he was raised in a tight-knit community, over the years he has risen to become a worldly leader and an example of the tragic aftermath of wars. He is known throughout the universe. People love him, people hate him. People are loyal to him, and some may equally despise him. Wherever he goes, his presence is honored, familiar and stirring. This is what we call, The GVP Phenomenon.
When General Vang Pao was arrested by the United States government on charges of trying to overthrow the government of Laos, we witnessed an event that caused an uproar in the Hmong community. One of the most significant things about this event was how much involvement there was among the younger generation, otherwise known as “Gen Y” and Millennials. New media tools, such as Facebook and blogs, opened the door for global communication. As a result, people were brought together because of their shared concern about war, persecution, betrayal and issues surrounding Hmong genocide. Supporters of General Vang Pao utilized grassroots efforts, enhanced by modern technology, to educate and inform the greater population about the importance of the General to the Hmong people. Much of the awareness surrounding his high profile arrest, was established and organized by local community groups.
For the first time in over 30 years, people from around the world, and most importantly, in the United States, learned about the historical ties of a small ethnic group known as the Hmong. Led by General Vang Pao, they had a significant involvement with the United States C.I.A. in the Vietnam War. The aftermath of their contribution and ties to the United States ultimately resulted in mass massacres of innocent Hmong people.
With no questions asked, on September 21, 2009, all charges against General Vang Pao were dropped. Contrary to the coverage and attention of his arrest and prosecution, the United States government and the media downplayed the decision. Finally, he was quietly released.