Today was hot. The heat index was well over 110 degrees. I was struggling to carry my forty pound pack. My son and I had now walked almost fifty miles on our Freedom Walk honoring the sacrifices of Noit, my wife and Paul’s mother. We are retracing her steps that she walked when she was freed by the advancing Vietnamese and Cambodian army. It is our Freedom Walk. It was April of 1979 when she walked, exactly 34 years ago.
Today as we walked I was thinking about her suffering and how horrible the Khmer Rouge must have been. Honestly, it is still hard to comprehend the horrors they experienced even with all the stories I have heard. Today, however, I had an emotional breakdown. I saw a political sign:
My son Paul didn’t know what was going on, so he squatted down and waited for his Dad to stop crying. The three men in the picture here are: Heng Samrin, Hun Sen and Chia Sim (Right to Left). All three are important, but especially Heng Samrin. If they did not flee to Vietnam and form an army to defeat the Khmer Rouge, my wife would not be alive today. The Cambodian nation would likely cease to exist.
Many Cambodians will tell you why they will always vote for the Cambodian’s People Party, simply because they are alive. My wife will never miss a single Sunday at church, however, when it is an election Sunday first we go vote. Today may have been the first time a foreigner ever broke down weeping at a political party sign, but I was just overcome with gratefulness that while none of the countries in the world cared enough about the people to stop the Khmer Rouge, these three men formed an army, along with the Vietnamese, and stopped the genocide. I will always be grateful. Always.