Can't believe this is really happening, 2 million Khmer souls will be officially honored, I was born in the midst of it all.
April 17th 1975, they seem to appear from nowhere, out of the jungles they came, men dressed in all black with red scarves, armed with machetes and machine guns, they stormed the city. Daring anyone to challenge them, they shouted and screamed from the top of their lungs, “this was our city! our state!, our country Now!, we are taking it back for the people!, we will liberate Kampuche of foreign control! With that the great city Capitol of Cambodia, “Phnom Penh" fell into their hands and under their control.
For months prior, there were rumors and stories of an uprising, no one knew for sure; but something was happening everyone felt it. Then just weeks leading up to this day, every airport and landing strip in the city, became bombarded with commercial planes, private jets and Army helicopters evacuating, foreign leaders, along with Cambodian generals, captains and high ranking officials, political leaders and members of the royal family, unbeknownst to the general public; a storm was coming.
The citizens that were left in this great city, when these soldiers in black came marching in, were confused, some were scared and went into hiding, while others looked on with curiosity. Some ran along beside the rag tag army of soldiers in black; like kids following a parade, cheering with the soldiers.
Everyone knew it was a take over, but thought how bad can it be. These men in black with red scarfs carried weapons, but they were Cambodian, they were speaking Khmer, they screamed Cambodian pride, they were here to "free and liberate Cambodia from foreign oppression" they shouted. The people of Cambodia should have nothing to fear.
So amidst, the smell of gun smoke and diesel fuel, followed by the sounds of rumbling tanks and old military cargo trucks with soldiers firing machine guns shots of celebration into the air; the citizens of the city celebrate and cheered with the new regime as they marched into the city on April 17, 2015 just a few days after the Cambodian New Years.
-Two days later I was born, April 19th...
-A week later all citizens were told to grab their belongings and head to the country side…
-A month later it sets in, people where forced to live and work in the country side to help rebuild a new Cambodia…
Anyone who refused were shot and killed, anyone who were part of the old government were shot and killed, anyone who was accused of, or even looked liked a traitor were imprisoned and tortured, their families, elders, grandmothers and fathers, their children, babies were shot and killed, no one was spared.
It was day one of “Year Zero", it was a cleansing of a country of everything it was before April 17th, 1975. It was the beginning of the bloodiest years of Cambodian history. Four years later, over 2 million dead, and millions more force to live in countries they knew nothing about all across the globe. From Australia to France, Europe to Spain, Canada to Hawaii, from Italy to North America, we came and made these countries our home, for years we lived never really understanding, what had happened, how many died or where we were from.
40 years later the baby born in Cambodia, in the midst of chaos, just 2 days after April 17th 1975, who celebrates his birthday in November, because the dates were changed when he entered America; is missing work, as he sits at his computer and tries to writes about the pride that he feels inside of him. With goosebumps arms he types away, fighting back tears he types, he feels the spirits of his father, his grandparents, his people, his country, he is overwhelmed, as the words flow, it may not make sense but he types on. In a few weeks he will be helping, honor and memorialize the 2 million men, women, and children of year zero.
It matters not who, what, why, how it happened, you can research if you feel the need to know, At this time all that matters is April 17th 1975, millions died so that we may live. They lay in shallow nameless graves, just plies of dried up bones removed of blood and flesh, some have been found, others washed away by the rains and rivers, or buried somewhere deep in the jungles and countryside of Cambodia. Who mourns them, who remembers them, who cries for them, they were our bong pa’owns, pa’s, pou’s, mings, oums, tahs, yays (bothers, sisters, fathers, uncles, aunts, grandparents) 40 years, and I have the chance to help honor 2 millions Khmer souls, with a remembrance and memorial that they deserve in the city that they inspired, Long Beach "Cambodian Town" California -ssc