Like many older Khmer people, I suspect, I find it very difficult to think of Cambodia
without Norodom Sihanouk in some leadership capacity, even the much reduced post-1990s
one as titular head of state. During my time in Cambodia with A.I.D. from 1957 to
1962. Sihanouk was, of course, the real political power in the country and a man
whom I admired greatly for his intelligence and political skills in trying to steer
the country and its peoples from what he knew would be its catastrophic involvement
in the second Indochina War.
While I never had the honor of meeting the King during our five years in the country-I
was into my first Foreign Service assignment and too low on the totem pole to attend
palace functions for the diplomatic corps-I was present on several occasions when
he was received by throngs of his people. On these and other occasions when I visited
the homes of Khmer friends, their devotion to him was always obvious.
Now in the twilight of his life, he surely has earned the right to be free of all
governing responsibilities during the years remaining to him. I wish it were possible
through this means to convey to him my wishes and appreciation for his years of service
to a country and people who will always remain close and dear to my memory.
John McCarthy - USA