Sacramento could be called the greatest melting pot in California. Many immigrants and refugees have called the City of Trees home since it was first established. One of the largest ethnicities that have connections to Sacramento are the Hmong people. Unknown to many Americans, there was a “Secret War” in Laos at the same time of the Vietnam War. The U.S dropped more bombs on the Laos region that was connected to Vietnam than it did in World War II against Germany and Japan combined. Thousand of Hmongs died during what people now call the “Secret War.” Even to this day, the war affects people who lived in the area that was bombed decades ago. Tiny pellet bombs about the size of a baseball have been mistaken for playthings by children who live there. Once disturbed, the bomb explodes, killing or decapitating limbs of the kids who were mistakenly playing with it.
As the name implied, the Secret War is something has been lost in many of the history books. However, the people who have been through it never forget, both Americans who dropped the bombs and Hmong who survived it. So that’s why the “Hmong Story 40- The 4 decades” exhibit about the journey the Hmong people made to America is now in Sacramento. Many people are gathering at the Serna Center where there are exhibitions containing historic Hmong artifacts of the time of the Secret War and speakers who have been through the war itself.
See Vang, the outreach coordinator of Hmong Story 40, say in an interview about the exhibit “The purpose of the veteran day is to honor our Hmong veteran who fought during the Vietnam war and the secret war. It is part of our project to honor our parent and grandparents.”
Many of the 3rd and 4th generation Hmongs do not know about their ancestor’s histories with the Secret War. However, the ones who have come to America as the result of is can remember it like yesterday. The pain of the war is literally embodied within those first generation Hmong refugees. Many believe that it is their job to make sure that their story of pain, as well as joy, are not lost within the future generations. The Hmong Story 40 will continue to have events like this to serve as a reminder, as a record of the history that the Hmong people have been through.