Sometimes in April

Jesse Cornett

On Sunday, April 10th 1994, I was a senior in high school. I had just joined the Army Reserves and had spent the weekend drilling with my unit. On my way home, I stopped by the Seattle Center for Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's candlelight vigil and memorial service. I remember the time as if it were yesterday. There were about 5000 people there, but it felt like my entire world were there at the time. I wasn't at the vigil to cry, I was there to celebrate the life and the music, though it was sad that an individual had killed himself.

Cobain had killed himself about 5 days earlier. His body was found on the 8th and the coroner estimated that he'd already been dead three days.

In the 100 days that followed I did many things. I snowboarded. I roadtripped all the way to the other side of the country and back. I graduated high school. I worked as a carnival ticket taker when the fair came through town. I hung out with friends. I did all the things an 18 year old should do.

Years later (1999), in college, I wrote a paper for a foreign policy class that I was in. One of my main sources for my paper was We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda. This book first got my attention about US Foreign Policy, and still helps me remain interested today (Note to Professor Gurtov: I think this means you were doing your job too). Since that time, I've remained especially interested in Rwanda.

Not surprisingly, I went and saw Hotel Rwanda shortly after its release. Don Cheadle did a great job of portraying Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who bravely helped save nearly a thousand Tutsis from being killed. Mr. Rusesabagina actually spoke over at Lewis and Clark recently. I wish I could have been there but didn't know about it until the day after it occurred.

Belatedly, I just watched Sometimes in April. April, a gripping story put together by HBO and recently aired over on PBS, is the latest film about the genocide that occured. While educational and interesting, a book and a major motion picture don't stand a chance in comparison to the picture painted in this movie. I think it should be required viewing as a reminder how time and time again inaction can cost lives. Our policy was to protect American interests. These were Rwandans killing Rwandans, who care cared how many were killed?

In those 100 carefree days of being a high school senior, then graduate, where I traveled the country, attended baseball games and my prom, I don't even recall hearing about Rwanda, yet it turns out in those same 100 days, nearly one million humans were slaughtered.

When I was at the vigil, many cried. Courtney Love stumbled over from the real memorial service and sobbed. She'd lost her husband, so for her it was understandable. Those in Rwanda lost husbands, wives, parents, children, friends and neighbors. They'd lost their entire world. I would recommend seeing Sometimes in April, and I wouldn't recommend waiting until April.

Note: I've cross-posted this at another blog that I'm giving a shot.

  • Aaron (unverified)

    Like normal Jesse, well written. I saw a sneak preview of Hotel Rwanda--Mr. Paul Rusesabagina was a special after-the-movie guest to discuss it with the director and us. This movie and The Killing Fields shows us the heritage of imperial power gone very badly. It is very odd that both set of events were the backlash of primarily French foreign policy. I think that the USA is now well down this path of going to have serious backlash of very bad foreign policy in various parts of the globe.

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    Thanks Aaron. Uplifting topic for a Friday night when most others are probably out having fun.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    "It is very odd that both set of events were the backlash of primarily French foreign policy." --Aaron

    Rwanda was a Belgian colony. Cambodia gained its independance from France and was admitted to the United Nations in 1955.

    The Cambodian debacle was caused by the war in Vietnam.

    "The reason people don't learn from the past, is because the past was a repetitious lie to begin with." Mike Hastie U.S. Army Medic Vietnam 1970-71

  • Sid (unverified)

    My husband and I watched 'Sometimes in April' together. We couldn't sleep that night.

    When interviewers ask Clinton what his biggest regret was during his presidency, he always says Rwanda, not Lewinksi.

    There's a lot out there on all the different ways the world failed to stop the genocide: the media, US politics, the UN, etc.

    After 10 Belgian UN peace keepers were killed in Rwanda and in the shadows of Somalia, it seems as if everyone just didn't want to touch it. How sad.

    And now we have Darfur...

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    Steve Gilliard has a 37-part series on colonial history that proves informative on tragedies like Rwanda, Cambodia and East Timor.

    I've seen The Killing Fields - I'll be ready for Hotel Rwanda about the time when I can watch it in private, too. And I'm a huge Don Cheadle fan. I can't even imagine when I'll be ready to see Sometimes in April.

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