This week marks the solemn anniversary of one of the most tragic chapters in recent history, the 1994 genocidal slaughter of some 800,000 men, women and children in Rwanda.
Ceremonies noting the tragedy and honoring the dead are being held in several locations around the world, including the United States, where the events of 15 years ago are still fresh in the minds of many Americans and their leaders.
The sad facts are well known. On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Rwanda's President Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundi counterpart was shot down as it was coming in to land in the capital, Kigali, when a rocket fired from the ground destroyed it. Both men were killed, setting off a wave of both revenge and ethnic cleansing, as extremist members of the president's Hutu people savagely attacked Rwanda's Tutsi minority and many moderate Hutus.
International peacekeepers withdrew after some of their troops were killed, and the rampage continued for 100 days. When the Hutu forces were defeated by a Tutsi-led opposition movement and forced to flee the country, an estimated 800,000 were dead.
Despite this deep sorrow and loss, Rwandans from all walks of life have worked heroically over the past 15 years to repair their lives and move forward. Their efforts command the world's respect and deserve the world's support in their extraordinary political, economic and social rebuilding.
As we memorialize the victims of the Rwanda genocide, we remind ourselves that atrocities committed anywhere violate the collective humanity and dignity that we all share.