Recorded on November 6, 2008
Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium
While the United States battled the Communists of North Vietnam
in the 1960s and 1970s, the neighboring country of Cambodia was
attacked from within by dictator Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.
The Khmer Rouge imprisoned, enslaved, and murdered the educated and
intellectual members of the population, resulting in the harrowing
"killing fields" - rice paddies where the harvest yielded nothing
but millions of skulls.
Young Sichan Siv - a target since he was a university graduate -
was told by his mother to run and "never give up hope!"
Captured and put to work in a slave labor camp, Siv knew it was
only a matter of time before he would be worked to death or
killed. With a daring escape from a logging truck and a
desperate run for freedom through the jungle, including falling
into a dreaded pungi pit, Siv finally came upon a colorfully
dressed farmer who said, "Welcome to Thailand."
Siv spent months teaching English in a refugee camp in Thailand
while regaining his strength, before finally being allowed entry
into the United States. Upon his arrival in the U.S., he kept
striving, eventually rising to become a U.S. Ambassador to the
United Nations. Ultimately, and with great trepidation, Siv
was to return to the killing fields of Cambodia in 1992 as a Senior
Representative of the United States.
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