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What to tell the children

The Editor,

And to those whom it should concern... As one who hopes to

someday soon be the father of the child who will be half-Cambodian and

half-American, I am greatly troubled by what I see transpiring in

Cambodia.

I had hoped my child would grow up learning that he or she

could be proud of both countries. That child would learn that America, a

comparably young country, is a great nation, though not without her faults, but

still a country where democracy has for the greater part of 220 years created a

society that has a degree of freedom and opportunity unequaled on the

Earth.

That child would be taught about the greatness of the Khmer people

whose blood he or she shares. The glory of the ancient days, the richness of

Khmer art and culture and the natural beauty of the land.

Of course, I

will point out the errors of both countries in their relationship, especially in

the time-frame of the mid-twentieth century, and there will be guilt enough for

all. But my hope will be to show that both countries have learned from their

mistakes. America, with many responsibilities in the arena of world affairs,

continues to represent one of the most engaged democratic societies, always

evolving, and always committed to the sacred trust that democracy will never be

compromised.

But what of Cambodia? How will I explain what many are

calling the demise of democracy, the bleeding of an opportunity for Cambodia to

distinguish itself among countries. The promise of the 1993 elections is rapidly

becoming a victim of "the old ways". Not that Cambodia shouldn't have its own

"flavor" of the democratic system, but recent developments are sure to leave a

bitter taste in the mouths of many Cambodians who hungered for so long for a

taste of true self-determination, expression, and the chance to regain the pride

of a people with such great potential.

I hope that one day my child will

be able to tell all who ask about his or her background that they are the best

of both worlds; one that is young, strong, and free, and one that is ancient,

glorious, and wise from experience. A keen and attentive leadership will note

that without freedom and wisdom, none of the other qualities will have any

meaning. Cambodia's greatness need not be relegated to the past. The generations

to come will be inquisitive, what shall we tell them?

- Jim Yost, Texas, United States.

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