on June 21, 2015 by Khampoua Naovarangsy
Stars and stripes: To most Americans are emblems of democracy and freedom. They are some of the most commonly used icons throughout flags of the world — including in countries where voters can only “choose” from one political party
It’s been brought to my attention that the city of Smithfield’s City Council has passed to recognize Laotian’s “Heritage and Freedom Flag” as the official flag of the Laotian community. Although sources indicate that the vote was to be for earlier last week on Tuesday June 21st. When I hear the outcome, I feel the need to express my position on the matter.
I’m sure I am not alone in saying that recognizing the Red and Elephant flag is a fantastic idea that makes absolute and perfect sense. For those who truly understand the story of that flag. One will know why it resonates so dearly in the hearts of Laotian-Americans, and why, after 41 years, it still stands as their flag of choice.
For Laotian people overseas, the Heritage and Freedom Flag is a symbol of freedom, democracy, and independence. It is living proof that for a time, even if only a short time, the Laotian nation was independent, proud, and free.
Without getting into the historical debate, I will skip straight to the point.
Anyone who lived under the regime of the Royal of Laos knows that it was a democracy, a strong and independent nation, and a place that they truly called home. Laos was a prosperous nation, with a great education system, a strong economy, basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, and one that defended its territory and people from the aggression of Pathet Lao Communist, The People’s Republic of Vietnam and Republic of China. Laos was a wall to defend the communist to flushing into Southeast Asia and Laos was the key to the whole of Southeast Asia (President John F. Kennedy).
When Royal of Laos fell in May of 1975, that proud nation of Laos ceased to exist, sparking a massive exodus of beginning of Laotian refugees from the country. More than half million people would flee from Laos under the communist rule, with the dangers of open waters being their primary means of escape. Some refugees fled by land, boat, and swam cross Mekong river through Thailand to refugee camps. Many runaways perished on this treacherous route at the hands of the brutal Lao Communist regime. More than half million seafaring escapees, 50,000 lost their lives at Mekong river, some young women got sold to become prostitutes and slaves to Thai and neighbors of Thailand from piracy. These journeys were in search of freedom.
This Heritage and Freedom Flag, the Red with three head Elephant, not only represents the former Royal of Laos and its ideals of freedom and democracy. It also represents that harrowing journey made by the fallen nation’s refugees in their search for freedom. The flag is significant, not only as a piece of history, but also as a commemoration of the struggle that the people of Laos endured in order to find their freedom.
That Red flag is a symbol of freedom, democracy, and independence. It is also a symbol of courage, determination, and persistence. This flag has come to represent the identity of all freedom-loving Laotian peoples, not just in the United States, but in liberal democracies all across the world. It is the flag that they themselves have chosen, it is the flag that they love, and it is the flag that they stand by.
This is why it is important that we support Smithfield’s recognition of this flag, and grateful to the City Council to pass this resolution.
Your voice matters, people. Make it heard.
God Bless America and all of you
Lao Heritage and Freedom Flag Committees
The Town of Smithfield is located in north-central Rhode Island. The Town was founded in 1730 and is home to approximately 21,000 people, covering 26.7 square miles. The Town is experiencing continued growth. Fidelity Investments, the nation’s largest mutual fund company has located one of two New England regional centers in Smithfield. We are also the home to a division of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Navigant Credit Union, Uvex Corporation, FGX International (AAi Foster Grant), and many other large and small companies. A regional shopping mall, The Crossing at Smithfield, is located at the junction of Putnam Pike (Rt. 44) and Interstate 295. Additionally, Smithfield is home to Bryant University, a top business school.