Tragedy is a very common term used by mankind. Since the beginning of time mankind has known tragedy and we have tried to figure out away to prevent tragedy. Now the definition of tragedy is this: an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe. We all have experienced, in our own personal way, tragedy but there is some tragedy caused by mankind that the world should never be forget and that we as citizens of this world should strive to prevent such incidents at all cost. To name a few that we can learn from, Rwanda, The Holocaust, 9/11, and the Trail of Tears.
I am not here to talk about any of the tragedies that I just mentioned however, I am here to talk about the genocide that happened in Cambodia. From 1975-1979 Cambodia was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge Regime, a Communist organization ran Pol Pot. During his rise to power, between 1.7 and 2.2 million deaths occurred(this number varies depending on source). At the time Cambodia had a population of 8 million people. This single man through corruption and manipulation butchered his people. This is an incident that should have never happened and should have never been allowed to happen and what it did is tear down a country that still to this day is struggling to rise from the ashes that Pol Pot left in his wake.
When Ash and I were in Cambodia we were able to visit one of the fields, simply known as the Killing Fields, that was used as a death camp and a place to systematically murder people. These places show the true terror of what man is capable of doing. Cambodia itself though shows how a country can band together and help their country come back from such a senseless tragedy. The most famous of the fields was Choeung Ek about 17 Km south of Phnom Penh. It is a site that is now dedicated to the victims that lost their lives during the genocide. The killing field is now marked by a Buddhist Stupa that holds around 5,000 skulls that are visible to the public as you explore this site.
We arrived early in the morning and we did not talk very much during the tuk tuk drive. We knew that the day was going to be emotional one. I stared out of the tuk tuk, looking out at the countryside as we left the chaos of the city. We arrived in the parking lot and at first it did not seem like much was there. We were one of the first travelers to arrive at the killing fields. We entered the gates and paid for the tickets and were handed a headset tour. The three of us started our headset guided tour at our own pace. We took the time listening to the tour as it guided us around the fields. The story of the killing fields was heart breaking. The most touching moment was a classical music piece, that told the emotional stories of the Cambodian people during this time. The tour had first hand accounts told by survivors, as well had voice recording from soldiers who were involved and committed these heinous crimes. It was emotional to say the least, we even found out that it was not just Cambodians who had to suffer these killing fields but even tourist that just got in the way. They had photos of Americans, Australians, and of course Cambodian victims. The tour ends at the stupa allowing you to go and saw a few words if you would like. The stupa was beautiful and haunting at the same time. The headset tour ended and we were are all speechless.
The killing fields was Choeung Ek were amazing and very humbling. The tragedy that the Cambodian people is something all humankind should work towards to fight against. The Cambodian people are working hard though to come back from this terrible event and keep their country going upward in progress.