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Remembering: A redeeming function of the mind and the heart

Updated on July 12, 2009

A Nation's Tears

Remembering has a liberating function for people who don’t wallow in the pains of the past but instead build something new and edifying. On the individual level, great achievements are born out of past rejections or failures. On the societal level, a nation that remembers is not doomed to repeat the mistakes or tragedies of the past. A nation says “Never Again to Dictatorship” and pursues democratic processes or just forgets the past and move on without dreams. No nation is without dreams.

I had the chance to visit the Genocide Museum - Cambodia’s relic of the Pol Pot Regime (1975 – 1979) under which around 2.3 million people died. The person who was my guide was himself a witness to the police state that Cambodia became during Pol Pot’s rule. The translator who explained the Museum to me said: It was a period beyond tears. This statement was more than enough to grow a lump in my throat.

As I was led to the different parts of the museum, I couldn’t explain the unease inside myself. Looking at the photos and the relics of chain and blood on the floor made me want to wail and embrace the dead.

Remembering Pol Pot will make any human being protect the institutions of democracy in his/ her country.

Below is a poem I wrote after that visit to the Genocide Museum.

Museum Genocide


January 1999

This was a garrison

at the time of Pol Pot,

a period beyond tears,

you said.

I could almost touch

the mound in your chest

as you took me

to every relic

that traced the scenes

of mothers weeping

as soldiers thrust

their babies into the air.

I felt trapped

by one passing torment

afflicting people

who choose to remember

as I watched the blank stares

of young people

almost leaping

from the photographs.

As you led me outside

to buy tourist items

men who lost a leg

or an arm

was a common sight.

I have full arms

but I’ve lost

my own hands

watching war victims

beg from strangers.

Copyright ©2009 Francia C. Clavecillas

Cambodia under Pol Pot


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    • franciaonline profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for taking time to read my hub, santoion!

    • santoion profile image


      9 years ago

      Beautiful !


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