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In Memory of my Uncle Ly and Uncle Cheng

{Uncle Cheng, left photo, and Uncle Ly holding my cousin Phalay, next to Phala and Ratha, far left}
Our family lost two members during the reign of Pol Pot. We did not hear from after their fleeing from the villages they were made to work in and have accepted that they were likely caught and killed by Khmer Rouge soldiers. I never met them but my Uncle Yim and dad gave further details.
This is to the memory of Uncle Ly and Uncle Cheng.
Uncle Ly, 4 years younger than my dad, was a smart father figure to his other brothers. He read constantly and taught his brothers what they knew of the outside world and western culture. He was also musically talented and very athletic. He was impressive in climbing a palm tree with only 2 hands.
During the reign of Pol Pot, Uncle Ly worked hard in the rice fields. Often one of several teenagers pulling the plow that oxen would usually have the hard labor of pulling. He left the village where his mom and brother Yim were also living when he could not take the labor anymore. He left them a note in December 1975 and was never heard from again.
Uncle Cheng, 6 years younger than my dad, was always cracking jokes and full of "smart butt" comments. He also had a very big appetite, so during the food rations of living under the Khmer Rouge in a different village than Uncle Ly, he was constantly hungry and stealing food. He would climb the palm tree to steal the sweet palm juice and was caught doing this at least 3 times. Each time he was punished by being tied and beaten against the tree or tied to the floor with a piece of metal tin roof on top of him in the hot sun to burn his skin. He was tortured but never killed from stealing food. His brother Yim was amazed in that he always returned home alive. One day in 1977 he could not take the torture anymore and fled from the village. He was also never heard from again.
This is dedicated to my family and also to those Cambodians who lost their family during this time. We will never forget but will forge on.
Thanks to Phalay for sending the photos above that is mounted in my aunt's home in Florida. These are the only photos of them. Most of the family photos were destroyed by the Khmer Rouge.

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