ST. PAUL, Minn. - It's often said a picture is worth a thousand words. But one photo at the new Hmong Leaders Exhibition Hall in St. Paul's Hmong Village left Kong Lor speechless.

"Just down there I seen one of my great-grandpas," Lor said.

Lor was surprised to see the same photo he grew up with on display at the exhibit. His great-grandfather, Nai Kong Nhia Her Lo, was a savvy businessman and politician.

"My dad always told me about my great-grandpa and how they came to America," he said.

His story is finally etched in history along with more than 100 other military and political leaders.

"In the past we didn't have any writing or history so we just listen by elders talk about just like telling a story," Wong Yia Vang, co-creator of the exhibit said.

Vang wanted to capture that oral history before it disappeared. Two years, thousands of research hours and countless interviews later a part of Hmong history is now on display for all to see.

Some of the faces and names are new to visitors. But for others like Choua Thao it's trip down memory lane. Thao was one of the first female nurses to work for Americans when they arrived in Laos.

"Today as I see these photos it makes me happy to see them but it also makes me sad because so many of the have died," Thao said.

The exhibit is free and open to the public.