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University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students and Hmong Studies Director Mai See Thao were on hand at Tuesday’s gathering of the Oshkosh City Council as Mayor Lori Palmeri read a proclamation declaring April as Hmong Heritage Month.

“The city of Oshkosh joins all Wisconsinites in celebrating Hmong Heritage Month by embracing the power of diversity and honoring the countless contributions of Hmong individuals and communities across our city, state, nation and world,” Palmeri said.

The proclamation notes that Hmong Americans have lived and worked in Oshkosh for more than 45 years and have greatly contributed to the city’s rich history, culture, economy and public service.

“During the Vietnam War, the Central Intelligence Agency and United States Armed Forces recruited, organized, trained and assisted Hmong forces to support the American war effort in Laos, and when the United States withdrew from the region in the early 1970s, the Hmong faced harsh retribution from the communist Vietnamese and Lao governments for their involvement; and thousands of Hmong people courageously fought alongside Americans during this ‘secret war,’ many lost loved ones, their livelihood, and were ultimately forced to flee their native lands and resettle in communities throughout the United States, including Oshkosh, Wisconsin,” the proclamation reads.

Thao said Palmeri also read the proclamation April 24 at the Hmong Service Center Inc., 726 N. Main St., Oshkosh. The center reports there are about 2,000 Hmong people in Winnebago County and 377 students that speak Hmong language in the Oshkosh area.

Hmong Heritage Month provides an opportunity for all to reflect on the sacrifices that Hmong people have made in service to the country and to celebrate the Hmong culture that is an important part of Oshkosh’s identity.

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