Happy Fourth of July to those in the United States!
Happy Day of Liberation to those in Rwanda!
The fourth in the U.S. will be filled with barbecues, pool parties, and fireworks. Americans gather together with their close friends and family to celebrate the moment a collection of Europeans decided they wanted to make their own decisions. (And of course pay money to people in their own land, for use in that land instead of one across the Atlantic.) And thank god they did, because we are now blessed with the ability to think for ourselves, and tell those in authority what we think.
The fourth in Rwanda includes military parades, performances by local musicians, and a speech from His Excellency President Kagame. Then Rwandans gather together with their close friends and family to eat food and spend time together, as they celebrate the day their lives were spared. After nearly four months of hiding in holes, homes, trees, and under bodies, those lucky enough to have survived this long were spared any further fear when the rebel force finally gained the upper hand over the interahamwe.
So today, we thank god for our freedom. And some of us thank god for our lives. And I was reminded by His Excellency that thanks alone are not enough.
“We remember where we were. We understand where we are today. And we look forward to where we will be. We remember that where we were is a horror that no other person on earth understands. And we are grateful that where we are now is so good, and know where we will be is [even better].”
Rwanda didn’t get to where it is now by merely offering praises to a power above every year. Just thanking god would neglect the work necessary to make the gift of your life worthwhile.
So today we celebrate. And tomorrow we prove that the celebrations are heartfelt.