Fresno, Calif - If you fought in an American war, you would expect to have the opportunity to be buried at a national cemetery when you passed away: that's not what happened to thousands of Hmong Vietnam veterans.
Thanks to the recent passing of the Hmong Veterans' Service Recognition Act, that all changed.
Thursday, a group of Hmong veterans who served in the Special Guerilla Unity during the Vietnam War, celebrated what has been nearly a decade in the making.
Chue Tchang, is one of 5,000 who lives on to tell their story.
"In the Vietnam War I worked as backup to the frontline. Many of my friends all died," said Tchang.
More than 35,000 Hmong soldiers died, but were not allowed to be buried at a national cemetery.
They weren't allowed because even though after the war they became American citizens, technically, during Vietnam they were still considered citizens of their home country.
"It's quite exciting that today the Hmong SGU service act was enacted into law," said Chi Neng Vang.
Vang is the son of General Vang Pao: The military commander who lead Hmong soldiers into battle.
His father was not allowed to be buried at a national cemetery.
"No hard feelings there. He did his service for this country and our people in the name of freedom," said Vang.
Congressman Jim Costa thought Thursday, which is recognized as Vietnam Veterans Day, was the perfect day to honor the fact that the SGU Vietnam soldiers will finally have the honor to buried alongside thousands of other soldiers who fought and died in the name of freedom.
"They will be afforded full military burial rights in American cemeteries from Santa Nella to Tehachapi and throughout the country. It's the right thing to do," said Costa.
The Central Valley is home to one of the largest Hmong communities in the world.