April 17, 1975.
I was barely 4 years old lived in a small town near the border of Cambodia and Thailand. My father was a teacher and my mother was a seamstress in Chongkal, O’darmeanchey Province. My family was talking about the Khmer Red (Khmer Rouge). I have no idea what that mean but I was scared. They said that Khmer Red has taking over the country and that they don’t know what to expect. Before April 17, 1975, some of my family members (aunts, uncles, and cousins) left to Thailand but my father decided to stay because my grandmother was old and he didn’t want to leave her. This was a big mistake that would cost him his life.
Several months later, in the middle of the night, the Khmer Red soldiers came to my house and took my father away. That was the last I seen him. They said they were taking him to a concentration camp. My mother said that she knew that he would never be back. She said he cried and asked her to save him some “omboke” because he was hungry. Mom said that I was asleep and did not know that he hugged me and my two sisters with tears rolling down his face. My father, Junda Chhun (Gru Jen) was beaten to death outside of town. His body was left for the coyotes to feast.
April 17, 1975 is a horrible date for all Khmer. 1.7 million Cambodian perished. It is not a memorable date but it is a day to remember so it will never happen again.