The Killing Fields - Incredibly heartbreaking and gruesome, please read at your own discretion

The Killing Fields is just outside of Phnom Penh and it is where hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were killed by the Khmer Rouge during the 1970’s. On the last day of our travels we were given the day to see what we wished and a small group of us decided to go to these fields to learn about the events and pay our respects. I was not ready for what I was about to learn.

When we arrived there was a large stupa (a place of worship with contents of usually friends, family, or religious persons). When I got closer, I saw the many human skulls that were inside glass cages inside of this stupa. These bones were excavated in the 1980’s and remain available for people to view and pay their respects. There were many tiers in the stupa; the first had the victim’s clothes, the second through the ninth contained skulls, and the 10th through 17th (maybe 19?… details seemed irrelevant) contained other bones, all organized. These were all real bones, not cast molds.

When we arrived at the first mass grave, the tour guide informed us that the victims were forced to dig this mass grave, then the Khmer Rouge would line up the victims on the outside, place them on their knees, blindfolded, then have them lean over the grave. When the victim was over the grave properly, they were killed (more details were given but I will spare you).

The next grave we arrived at had women and children in the grave. This by far, was the saddest grave to visit. Again, please read at your own discretion. Women were forced to watch as Khmer Rouge soldiers held their children by the feet and beat them against the “Killing Tree” until the infant’s were dead. This was done all around Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge to stop future generations of Cambodians seeking revenge. Our previous tour guide recalled as a child walking through the woods and seeing trees covered in blood and brain matter. After the mother had been forced to watch her child be murdered, she was immediately executed as well.

This grave was covered by many bracelets of blessings and other forms of bracelets to show respect. I had attached my blessing string (red bracelet that was given to me by a monk to insure a healthy and blessed life) to the killing tree in hopes that the murdered children will at least be able to live a blessed and peaceful reincarnated life somewhere.

By last site was visited by choice, I was absolutely disturbed and sickened by the actions of the Khmer Rouge, but was able to appreciate the country we live in and how our freedom protects us all. We are truly blessed to never have to go through an experience like that.

Pete Marcano @marcano