Cambodians expanded a Pchum Ben ceremony Saturday to include a heartfelt memorial to the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
Organizers, including the Cambodian-American Friendship Association and Moeung Sonn of Eurasie Tours, joined about 300 monks and guests for a ceremony at Wat Botum that preceded the traditional giving of food to monks.
US Ambassador Kent Wiedemann thanked the Cambodian people for the compassion shown to the terrorist victims.
“We know the Cambodian people have suffered many times in recent history from terrorist attacks. We understand the depth of feeling represented here this morning,” the ambassador said.
The pagoda was not the place to discuss any US response to the attacks, the worst acts of terrorism ever on US soil, Wiedemann said.
“I will not in this sacred place speak of retaliation. I will say that the US, working with Cambodia and other governments, will take every step to seek to ensure that these acts of terrorism will not reoccur,” the ambassador said.
Wiedemann said although he had no official notification that any Cambodian or Cambodian-Americans were victims of the attacks, it was entirely possible.
Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara, one of the officials who attended the ceremony, said he had a few anxious moments of his own after the attacks.
His wife and a son were in the air over the Pacific Ocean at the time, and in all the confusion it was several hours after they safely landed before Chea Sophara heard from them. His son was traveling to the US to study at the University of California at Irvine, near the city of Long Beach.