Happy Khmer New Year | Soursdei Chnam Tmei!
This year, our Khmer community in CT is bringing back a big celebration for the Cambodian New Year. Unfortunately, I’ll be missing out on it, traveling to Savannah, GA. I’m proud that the community has come together in such a way to honor and celebrate for all. It’s a wonderful thing and really great for the next generation to celebrate their heritage and traditions. It shows how strong our community is and dedicated to rebuilding after all that was lost.
This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia. April 17th, 1975, when my parents were in their early 20’s with two kids in tow, they were forced to leave their home in to the wrath of Angkar. Where, eventually, 2 million people would perish, including my two sisters among many other family members.
Those were the events that lead my parents to the U.S. When they escaped to the refugee camps, my parents decided they should start their new life in America. I can’t imagine going through what they went through and to pack up with nothing but their children and the traumatic experiences they just lived through… it’s incredibly brave and inspiring.
My parents wanted us to have a better life, and in my opinion they achieved that. I am very fortunate to have the freedom and opportunities that this world presented me. I know my family went through unimaginable hardship to get us here, suffered severe losses, but still pulled through so that I can be here today.
Now, 40 years later, we must always remember and honor those that haven fallen under the hands of such cruelty. Take time to pay our respects for those loved ones, lost and still with us today. We must also celebrate life by ringing in the new year with much gratitude and happiness, because those before us would want us to live our life going forward. And still among us, the generation that carries deep scars from their wounds under the Khmer Rouge, recognize those wounds, and be inspired by the bravery that brought them here. Get to know their legacy, their strength, and understand that’s where we come from.