The longest serving monarch in the world, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, died on October 13 at the age of 88 after seven decades in power.
Emily Richards, a missionary kid from Thailand who currently lives in Siloam Springs, recalls the day she first heard of the king’s death.
“Well, I was at work when I found out about it. My mum sent me a text and the first thing I thought about was just Thailand in general, the Thai people, and how they are feeling at that moment, right when they heard the news. I know that all of them were devastated.” Richards said.
The king’s only son, Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64, is to set to take over the king’s throne but has refused to take his place with immediate effect, because he is mourning with the rest of the country. A top official said the coronation of the new king will take place after the king has been cremated and after a period of mourning, according to New York Times.
Thailand is mourning for one year. This started on October 14, the day after the king died. Civil servants are required to wear black during this time, and flags will fly at half-mast for 30 days. Nationals are expected to refrain from taking part in public forms of entertainment during this mourning period.
“I know that the people at the school I went to, they are wearing black. The teachers have to all wear black for the whole year,” Kate Garrison, junior nursing major at John Brown University, and missionary kid from Thailand, said.
Garrison attended Grace International School, located in Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand. The school made black polo shirts, which are optional for students to wear.
Thai television stations were airing black and white videos of the king’s reign, according to The Atlantic. Newspapers also followed by publishing content in black and white.
The king was highly respected all throughout the country. His pictures are displayed in public places, shops and living rooms. People also showed reverence to him by singing the royal anthem, Sansoen Phra Barami, before movie screenings in theaters. People usually stand up while the anthem is being sung to honor the king as pictures of his work and life are displayed on the screen.
Judah Ryan, a former JBU student, used to live in Thailand and recalls seeing some of the accomplishments of the king.
“Before his reign, opium was a big problem in Thailand, and still kind of is in Asia, but he and his queen did a lot of efforts to get rid of opium from Thailand,” Ryan said. “There is an opium museum in Thailand that celebrates the king and queen’s efforts of getting rid of the drug.”
The king made several developments in rural areas and this resulted in approximately 3,000 projects since 1952, according to Al Jazeera. He was involved in several agricultural and environmental projects such as cloud seeding, utilizes chemicals to trigger rainfall.