Westminster will soon be home to a Lao-Hmong memorial, and according to the Lao-Hmong Foundation, it will be the first in the nation.
“This memorial serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the Lao-Hmong and honors their legacy,” said Yangmee Lor.
City Council voted unanimously on the project at the April 24 city council meeting.
“It helps to ensure that all cultural backgrounds are seen and heard and appreciated,” said City Councilor Obi Ezeadi.
The statue will be located in Westminster's City Park, between the Christopher Fields Softball Complex and City Park Recreation Center. Preliminary designs sketch the memorial to be a T-28 Trojan Warbird airplane that served in the Secret War.
According to PBS Wisconsin, the Secret War was an operation during the Vietnam War when the CIA trained Hmong soldiers in Laos to fight with U.S. forces during the Vietnam War.
The National Lao-Hmong Memorial Foundation is on the hook for the design and construction costs. The City will then own, operate and provide routine maintenance of the memorial with the memorial foundation providing sufficient funds for maintenance.
According to the meeting’s agenda, the city has been working with the foundation since 2006 to formalize the agreement, after Colonel Bob Resling contacted the city regarding the proposal.
Then, in July 2010, the city council agreed to enter an agreement and a formal signing was scheduled for December later that year. Unfortunately, Colonel Resling died prior to that meeting.
Efforts to build the memorial were renewed in 2016 and work to make the statue a reality were reignited.
Councilors got their first look at a proposed agreement at the April 17 study session. At that meeting, City Councilor Bruce Baker asked if it contained a reverter clause.
“We cannot tell what happens in the future, but we’ve had numerous examples where political whims change and if that happens in our city, will this be given back to the people donating this memorial for the city?” said Baker.
Mayor Pro Tem David DeMott noted his childhood in Westminster.
“To me this is a big honor, growing up here I’ve known many Lao-Hmong people I’ve gone to school with,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed a lot of friendships in that community.”