Fighting for something more sacred than liberty

By Kema Hodge

What would you do if you had to choose between your most sacred possession and your freedom?

Many of us would choose freedom believing that freedom is a more worthy and noble cause for bloodshed. However, what if the choice came down to protecting something you love and believe in, something that you committed your life to?

Well, the Cambodian government chose not to settle for one but to fight for both when confronted with that choice. In 1980, the Vietnamese joined forces with the Cambodians in a battle for civil liberty. The war lasted about 15 years and many were murdered or injured.

Fighting for liberty is easily a noble cause, but the Cambodians also fought for their history, culture, and religion.

The Cambodian Civil War took place at the Angkor Wat temples. These temples are a part of Cambodia’s rich history. They were originally built in the 12th century and consisted of Hindu deities.

However, by the 16th century they had become a Buddhist temple and contained many Buddhist statues. These statues are very valuable, especially the heads, and were a major target during the Cambodian civil war.

Both the enemy and common thieves were willing to desecrate Buddhist statues in order to sell the heads for profit. The Cambodian government recognized that this would have a devastating effect on not only their rich history but also their devout citizens.

Therefore, instead of leaving the temple unguarded to fight the war, the Cambodian government allowed the temple to serve as a fort in order to both protect its contents and to protect their people. The soldiers risked their lives not only for freedom, but for their idol. That is true devotion, and Angkor Wat has the battle wounds to prove it.


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