Sunday, March 05, 2006

"....A Lesson To Be Learned"

The nearby parking lots were full and the traffic police were turning away oncoming vehicles. Cars in front of me were making U-turns in the street to change direction as did I. Eventually, I parallel parked along the street a couple blocks away. I started walking and followed other pedestrians toward our destination of the Salem Fine Arts Center of Salem College on the evening of March 1, 2006.

I noticed two women in front of me and recognized one as a former colleague. I made my way closer and got her attention by saying "Jamie, I saw you in the movie June Bug". She turned and recognized me, we greeted each other, and she embarrassingly admitted performing a role in the movie. She quickly added "but, I didn't say any of those bad words." We laughed and continued our trek.

Anyway, back to my story.

As we approached the arts center, the crowd grew large as I met friends leaving who said in passing that the house was packed and they were going home. I continued inside and the auditorium was full as was the large room across the lobby with a big closed circuit video screen focused on a podium. I finally moved through the standing crowd and entered the newly renovated Hanes Auditorium where the speaker would soon be introduced. I stood in the rear where the news reporters and camera crews were positioned. Several minutes passed as ushers carried in folding chairs for the overflow turnout. A couple minutes after the scheduled start time Stephanie Moser, class '07, walked across the stage to the podium and began her introduction of Paul Rusesabagina. You may recall that he was the Kigali Hotel Manager and hero in the 100 days of genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1994. I had already seen the movie Hotel Rwanda starring Don Cheadle and knew about the slaughter of 800,000 Tutsi and Hutu members. I had seen the news clip of President Bush presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mr. Rusesabagina at a White House ceremony on November 9, 2005.

Tomorrow, I'll summarize what I heard Mr. Rusesabagina say to us.

Have a good day!

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