Sunday, March 30, 2008

Memory eternal!

The New York Times reports the following:
Dith Pran, a photojournalist for The New York Times whose gruesome ordeal in the killing fields of Cambodia was re-created in a 1984 movie that gave him an eminence he tenaciously used to press for his people’s rights, died on Sunday at a hospital in New Brunswick, N.J. He was 65 and lived in Woodbridge, N.J.


He had been a journalistic partner of Mr. Schanberg, a Times correspondent assigned to Southeast Asia. He translated, took notes and pictures, and helped Mr. Schanberg maneuver in a fast-changing milieu. With the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975, Mr. Schanberg was forced from the country, and Mr. Dith became a prisoner of the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian Communists.

Mr. Schanberg wrote about Mr. Dith in newspaper articles and in The New York Times Magazine, in a 1980 cover article titled “The Death and Life of Dith Pran.” (A book by the same title appeared in 1985.) The story became the basis of the movie “The Killing Fields.”
I have friends who survived the horror Mr. Dith went through. My prayers for Mr. Dith, for all who perished in the Killing Fields, all who suffered horribly under the Khmer Rouge, and for all who survived that horror.

Pie Jesu, Domine, dona eis requiem.

h/t to mcjoan at Daily Kos
--the BB


Kirstin said...

I had a college roommate who survived it, as well. Praying with you.

FranIAm said...

When I saw The Killing Fields, I was wrecked for days. What I did not know then, what I do know now, was that I was suffering from PTSD.

I look back at that moment, sitting in my car -weeping and heaving in a way that terrified me even more than the terror that I felt.

Perhaps that was the day the angel touched my shoulder and started me on my journey to healing.

As a result, that movie- that great man, has meant much to me as a reminder of what can be.

My heart aches at his passing, but it is also joyful that out of the depths he rose up and had such a remarkable journey and such profound impact.

Rest in peace.

johnieb said...

Oddly, (that's me, after all!) I was pretty calm throughout *The Killing Fields* until there was a newsreel segment of Nixon announcing the Cambodian Invasion. The next thing I knew, I felt my wife's elbow hard in my ribs accompanied by a fierce whisper "If you're gonna say that that loud, maybe you better take a break in the lobby."

I have always felt revenge starts at the top.

johnieb said...

Lordy, I guess I'm still a little touchy; I do mourn the passing of this great man, and pray for his vindication and that of his people.

May he have passed through all suffering to the Light of all.

Paul said...

Johnieb, the memory of these horrors touch us deeply, and you are among those for whom it is especially painful. May we all move toward healing and wholeness, individually and collectively.

For me it has always been at a remove, but I have known so many whose lives were directly touched by genocide that I got sensitized by people I love.


johnieb said...

Thank you, Paul. I was explaining to myself today (again) that other people can talk about these things and be angry at them without it triggering unconscious level learned behaviors. I must remember that I have to back off before it gets too far, which is the reason I support wholeheartedly your (and Mimi's, and everybody else's) efforts to keep this issue before the public, but must not participate directly unless I am very careful; otherwise, I'm in a spin for a week.

Godde bless you, my friend.

Paul said...

Godde bless you too, my friend. Sometimes when I post stuff that confronts us with realities we'd rather ignore, I worry about what I might trigger for good folks like yourself. I am glad you try to monitor your responses and take care of yourself. I don't ever want to traumatize the friends I write for.

Mary Clara said...

Paul, thanks for this post. I too have been grieving and had no one to tell. Dith Pran has long been a hero of mine, and Cambodia one of the homes of my heart. I visited Siem Reap in 1964, when the horrors to come were not yet even imagined, and made a friend there whom I admired deeply -- a very literate man who was therefore probably one of those later murdered by the Khmer Rouge. That was Dith Pran's home town, too, and he probably knew my friend. I am grieving for both of them, for the beautiful little town and the pacific, sublimely hospitable people of that country who gave me such undeserved joy, and who suffered such undeserved horror and loss in the ensuing years.

Paul said...

Oh, Mary Clara, the Cambodian people are so wonderful. The friends I came to know through our church in Oakland have so enriched my life and I have only heard the stories they are willing to share for public consumption. As soon as I saw a small notice of Mr Dith's death I knew I wanted to honor him and hold the entire tale up for us once again.

We developed an annual Mass for the Victims and Survivors of the Cambodian Genocide to help us remember, witness, honor, and heal.

I am glad you experienced the beauty of the land and the people before the horrors.

johnieb said...

Thank you, Paul, but don't worry about me; it's only when I call out.

I have heard about the peaceful land that we destroyed; I lived less than 50 kilometers from Cambodia, and often much less, for six months. What the U S did there still grieves me, but I manage.

You think I'm bothered by what the Rev. Wright has said? You would be bothered by what I would say.