By the First Lady Jeannette Kagame
Peace was the Promised Land of so many Heroes that never got to experience its splendor, its healing power, its pricelessness.
It saddens me to consider this injustice. But, if there was ever a day to show a little bravery in the face of such crucial, yet grave discussion, it must be today.
Happy Heroes’ Day.
For us, sacrifice is a heavy word; one tinted with both valor and profound pain.
This is where I believe our story to be perhaps unique. Our Hero(e)s did not merely offer strength and strain to liberate our country. Beyond securing freedom, they also committed their minds, their spirits, their knowledge, their values, their wisdom and insight, to put a fallen nation back on its feet.
How so formidably, Rwanda - free at last - stood!
Our Heroes attested to their courage from all corners of the land. From the Nyange students, mere adolescents, who chose death over being divided by perceived ethnicity, to our valiant soldiers who put down their weapons and raised chalk to board, to teach our children to read, to write, to count.
From survivors who silently battled trauma and hopelessness to create support systems for those orphaned, injured or aggrieved, to those who had nothing to fear, but chose to put their lives on the line to preserve humanity and nationhood. The small mass of professionals that was aptly trained, offered the population its devotion for little to no pay.
In times of peace, our armed forces, are ever present, placing one stone upon the next, to build our nation.
For this, we are deeply indebted for our Hero(e)s’ sacrifices.
If rebuilding from a genocide and a war of last resort will teach you something at all, it is that there is nothing more heroic than maintaining peace or protecting another’s life, sometimes at the expense of your own.
To the Rwandan Hero(e)s, living and gone: even when your fight is misrepresented by ill-intended tongues, or misinterpreted by ill-informed glares....always remember that your sacrifice is sacred.
No, our forces do not loot.
No, our forces do not rape.
No, our forces do not rob innocent lives.
Our military forces carry peace and dignity beyond our borders.
We salute you!
We thank you for the peace that surrounds us. We thank you for the sound sleep we enjoy.
Indeed, it would be unfortunate for anyone with power and duty to serve, to strive for anything else but peace; for real heroes don’t sow war; they prevent, or end it.
Meanwhile, the threat of war, the loss of limb and life seem too often and too lightly employed by those who know nothing of the darkness of the battlefield; so little about the dreadful weight of a loved one prematurely braving death, so that you, or your family, should not have to suffer the same.
It is said that “old men declare war; but it is the youth that must fight and die.” Well, I believe that greed declares war, but it is the selfless that do fight, and do die.
Is the price of peace always measured against the scale of sacrifice?
However sacrifice need not always entail martyrdom: Se sacrifier ne devrait pas inévitablemment se solder par la mort.
Se sacrifier pourrait être, aussi, choisir une exigeante intégrité là où cupidité pourrait tenter.
Se sacrifier signifie aussi, verser sueur pour nous élever tous, comme un seul homme, plutôt que sang, pour nous diviser.
Se sacrifier s’agit tout simplement, d’accomplir le travail qui compte, créer un ressenti de bien-être si légitime, que la dévastation de la guerre n’est plus une option.
We thank all those who gave the ultimate.
We thank all those who chose “Ndumunyarwanda” .
This is the difference between a Hero and a warlord. One stops destruction and rebuilds; another rages and burns to the ground.
How proud we are of the certitude to which category those we celebrate today belong.
Happy Heroes’ Day, once more!
« The body of Rwanda was tortured, assaulted, and succumbed but the spirit never died. It is that spirit that should fight on..... To never be defeated. »
Today, our spirit is alive and well, and it shall always value and defend our peace.
May all our Hero(e)s be thanked for all they so nobly gave, and loved for what they so sacrificially did, for there are yet some in desperate need of Hero(e)s.
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