Canadian Sen. Romeo Dallaire, a retired lieutenant general with the Canadian army, will be honored with the 2014 Reflections of Hope Award.
The 10th annual Reflections of Hope Award Dinner, chaired by Traci Cook and Kim Neese, is scheduled for March 31 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Dallaire is a celebrated humanitarian, according to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, which made the announcement Wednesday.
In 1993, Dallaire was appointed force commander for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, where he witnessed the country descend into chaos and genocide. More than 800,000 Rwandans were killed in less than 100 days, according to a release from the National Memorial.
Dallaire, along with a small contingent of Ghanaian soldiers and military observers, disobeyed the command to withdraw and remained in Rwanda to fulfill their ethical obligation to protect those who sought refuge with the U.N. forces. Dallaire is credited with saving thousands, and 2014 marks the 20th anniversary since the tragedy.
Dallaire, an outspoken advocate for human rights, genocide prevention, and war-affected children, founded the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, an organization committed to ending the use of child soldiers worldwide.
Dallaire “speaks for those without a voice. He showed tremendous courage, hope and fortitude in the face of unbelievable annihilation of a society when so many abandoned them and their cause” said Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. He “lived through horror and has taught hope through it all by his work.”
“It is my aim in life to eradicate even the thought of using children and youths as weapons of conflict and war,” Dallaire said in a statement.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum established the international award to honor an individual or group who by their actions demonstrated hope in the midst of political violence. The award is accompanied by a $25,000 cash prize that will allow the recipient to further their work. The Reflections of Hope Award was established by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation in honor of Linda Lambert's service to the memorial.
For ticket information, call 235-3313 or go to http://www.oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org/.