YEAR ZERO: April 17, 1975

In Cambodia, today marks the day Phnom Penh fell to the hands of the Khmer Rouge who systematically slaughtered millions of people- especially those with an education.  They eradicated all institutions of democratic government and ended peace, thus beginning the most painful, bloodiest, and most traumatizing series of events to happen to any people in recent history. The ripples of this painful past resonates still today; you don't need to look far.

I hate it when people use the term, "anniversary" to describe it because there is absolutely nothing to celebrate. It should be called a, "Day of Observance. "  We should acknowledge this day for what we have slowly reconstructed - the parts of our beautiful culture that were so violently ripped away. 

Do not be ashamed that you are Khmer. 

What is there to be ashamed of? Our people are innately artistic. We are architects of the largest modern cities in the world that are still standing today. We are musicians, artists, poets, dancers, film makers, writers, athletes, teachers, engineers and so much more...

Do not be afraid to talk about issues that really matter to our people- the ones that can create real and lasting change. Where ever you are; Cambodia, USA, France, Australia, Canada, etc... I'm asking you to recognize that there has been a disconnect between our generation and our parents' generation. I'm not trying to push a political revolution, but a revolution in your mind... I'm just asking you to remember that you are Khmer. 

If this generation, the children born during the Khmer Rouge era and the Khmer diaspora born throughout the world ignores that calling, then the efforts of the Khmer Rouge will have succeeded. Think about that for a second: if you forget who you are and where you came from, the efforts of the Khmer Rouge will have succeeded long after the concentration camps have been demolished. 

I am proud to count many friends in Cambodia who are genuinely dedicated to rebuilding Cambodia's infrastructure.. I am proud to see friends here in USA uphold traditions and create new ones...

Let your parents' efforts of struggle and survival not be in vain! Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on this and I truly hope it has touched you in some way. 

Love and peace always! 

- Sorany Var

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