Buried in a closet is a suitcase where my mother hides an heirloom from the war. I have seen it only once, by chance when she was reorganizing. It is a traditional Hmong jacket. Instead of being pristine and vibrant like the ones I wear to the Hmong New Year, it is thin, tattered and faded. This is the jacket my mother wore as a girl, growing up in the mountains of Laos. It is what she wore the night her family fled their village in fear of retribution from the Communists following the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam.

Underneath this jacket is another one, also old and ragged.…  Seguir leyendo »

As a public servant, I am confronted every day by serious problems without clear solutions. Once in awhile, however, I come upon a problem that actually can be fixed, if only we summon the necessary will and resources. The scourge of unexploded ordnance in Laos – remnants of a war that ended decades ago but still kills innocent civilians – is just such a problem.

Earlier this year, I traveled to Laos in the first delegation composed entirely of congressmen whose roots are from the Asia-Pacific region. We were there to address a number of foreign-policy issues, but I will never forget our visit with officials responsible for overseeing bomb-clearance work in Laos.What I learned shocked me.…  Seguir leyendo »