As the American community celebrates our Independence Day in Phnom Penh, many of us will reflect on what it means to be an American living in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Those of us who have chosen to remain in Cambodia during the Covid-19 period have knowingly demonstrated a profound commitment to the nation and the people of Cambodia.
We have decided to meet the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19 together with our Cambodian brothers and sisters despite the risks to personal health and business, and distance from family members.
This resolve and spirit in the face of adversity are precisely what Americans celebrate on the 4th of July.
I believe we share this same spirit with the people of Cambodia, who themselves have overcome incredible hardships.
This is one reason why I think Americans and Cambodians share a special closeness.
I reflect this bond personally – through my veins flows the blood of parents born in the United States and Srok Khmer – the Cambodian homeland.
The United States offered our family a respite from war and the opportunity to build a new life.
As a family, we have much to celebrate as Americans. As a former United States Army soldier, our Independence Day also takes on a special significance.
I fought for my country in both Iraq and Afghanistan, learning the sacrifice and significant burden of war.
What I have found most remarkable about war is the human capacity for forgiveness and reconciliation.
Even though the United States fought a bitter war of independence against the British monarchy, we are now countries with the closest of bonds.
Likewise, the people of Cambodia and the United States share bonds of friendship, culture and commerce that benefit both countries immensely, despite having a complicated historical relationship.
This feeling of open collaboration in building a future together gives me endless optimism about the US-Cambodia relationship.
Remarkably, approximately 32 per cent of all exports from Cambodia are shipped to the United States – we are the largest single country trading partner for the Kingdom.
This trade represents hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs and the consequent support of these families.
I am proud of this – as an American and as a Cambodian.
As with all special times, this Covid-19 period will pass, and we will find ourselves defined by our actions when times were hard.
Our American businesses have worked to support our Cambodian colleagues through these times, something I am personally proud of.
As new business models and value chains emerge, AmCham will work hard to strengthen the bonds that make us all successful together.
This Independence Day, I will raise my glass to the United States of America, knowing that I am among my trusted friends and family here in Srok Khmer.
To all Americans sharing this day with us in Phnom Penh, on behalf of the AmCham Board of Governors – cheers!