The Central California General Vang Pao Monument Project Committee seeks to create an accessible world-class public monument for such an historic figure as General Vang Pao. In searching for the right sculptor, the members of the committee considered several before unanimously agreeing on Paula B. Slater. http://www.paulaslater.com/
Paula Slater is internationally recognized for her public art monuments and bronze portraits and shares the Committee’s vision of a beautiful inspiring bronze and granite monument that will last forever. Working with the Committee, Paula has created a model of an extraordinary monument of General Vang Pao that will educate people about the man and his life while memorializing his many accomplishments for future generations.
Building a world class public monument recognizing the Hmong and one of their historical figures is a challenging process. It takes a lot of time and effort to carefully design a concept that will be meaningful now and in the future, research the appropriate material that will retain its beauty for future generations, identify the sculptor who will do the best job, plan and organize fundraising efforts to build the monument, and make tangible the timeless vision of a live and powerful statue that truly represents the history, contributions, and impact of a historical figure.
The General Vang Pao (GVP) Monument was designed in this perspective, so when future Hmong generations see the monument, they will be reminded of General Vang Pao’s desire for and commitment to their success and when others see the monument, they will learn of the contributions of the Hmong and General Vang Pao. They will see that GVP was not just a military leader but a civilian leader as well as a father who worked tireless on behalf of the Hmong people in many ways. He played critically important roles in encouraging and providing leadership, economic, and educational opportunities as well as social mobility to the Hmong people and others in Laos and the United States.
The GVP monument will consist of a beautifully sculpted10 ft tall full-figure bronze statue of GVP standing on a four-sided 6 ft tall granite base. There will be 3 bronze relief panels on the base. One relief panel will be on the right side; one relief panel will be on the left side; and one relief panel will be on the front of the base. The General will be with U.S. officials in military uniform on one relief panel providing a brief description of the role and responsibility that the U.S. asked the General and the Hmong to take on during the Vietnam War.
The General will be sculpted in civilian attire with a few Hmong individuals on another relief panel, and in this panel, there will be a brief description of his contributions to the Hmong people in the United States after the Vietnam War. On the last relief panel, the General will be sculpted wearing Hmong traditional clothing, General uniform, and civilian attire meeting with President Nixon. This last relief panel will briefly describe the General’s life as a Hmong child, his passion for lifting the Hmong people out of fear and discrimination, and creating opportunities for the Hmong people and others as well as his road to becoming a revered General.
The last panel of the base, which will be located on the back of the base and will not be a relief panel, will tell two stories of Hmong history. One story will be dedicated to the Hmong soldiers and military leaders who sacrificed their lives with the General from 1961 to 1975. The other story will be dedicated to the Hmong people who could not leave Laos with the General after the Vietnam War, and who have suffered and are still suffering for their role in aiding the United States.
The beautiful 10 ft tall full-figure bronze statue of the General will be in civilian attire. He will be dressed as such because although he spent about 15 years of his life as a military leader and General, he spent the rest of his life as a civilian leader and father to the Hmong people. His right hand will be extended out to symbolize his love for and continued belief in support of the Hmong people. His left hand will be holding a book to symbolize his quest for achieving and promoting educational opportunities for the Hmong people. The book will be titled, “Education is the Key; Knowledge is Power.” These words were chosen because General Vang Pao often used them in his many lectures and conversations with Hmong families and communities around Laos and the U.S.
In Laos, particularly in Military Region II, he built schools and sent teachers and, in some cases, military leaders to teach Hmong children, built roads to Hmong villages, and created educational and economic opportunities for the Hmong people as well as others. After he resettled in the United States, GVP created organizations to help the Hmong adjust to life in the United States and traveled throughout the United States to meet with Hmong families and communities encouraging them to embrace the American ideals of freedom and democracy. He inspired with a vision of hope, offered his unwavering support, and emphasized the importance of education. The GVP monument with all its components will not only tell the story of General Vang Pao and the Hmong people during and after the Vietnam War, but will inspire the Hmong people and others for generations to come.