Who’s my Hero? Roméo Dallaire

Hero’s come in all colors. I have a lot of martial arts hero’s, but I have to say that Roméo Dallaire is one of my favorite heroes. For those who don’t know him. He is a retired lieutenant-general, and he was a former commander for the UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda. I really admire Roméo’s courage and his passion to help others. And I had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem in front of him when he was a guest speaker at my high school.

In 2011, my Social Studies teacher called me and asked if I wanted to sing the Anthem. As some of you don’t know, I have been singing since I was 8 years old, singing has been a passion of mine. I asked what was the occasion? And she said it was for guest speaker, Roméo Dallaire. Now I had no idea who he was until my teacher gave me a movie, “Shake Hands with the Devil”.

I watched it. It was based on Roméo’s story of his experiences in Rwanda. I highly recommend anyone to watch it. You have no idea how hard it is to witness thousands of dead bodies and trying to survive this killing spree. So many people are living normal lives, when people are trying to survive. What’s even worse, is that children are being trained to be soldiers. They can be used as weapons of war if it keeps up. Please watch it.

It was the big day for Roméo Dallaire to come talk to our school, I was so nervous. When I saw him step into the doors, my heart was pounding. I had to step outside to take a few breaths and I drank water constantly. I remember it well, but I drank like 8 bottles of water. My hands were cold, and I was jumping up and down to shake out the nerves. I went back to my seat, just swaying my body forward and back like a rocking chair. People were laughing at me, saying I look like a child with a mental illness.

My teacher called me up. My heart started beating, but the shivering stopped. As I walked up to the stage and grabbed the microphone, I saw Roméo Dallaire looking right at me, he had this look like he was not impressed. Well I guess his expression is always like that because he used to work in the military. I quickly looked away to avoid feeling nervous again. I was thinking, “What if he doesn’t like my singing?” or ” What if I messed up?”. Once the piano started playing, everyone stood up, especially Roméo.

I started singing, my fears started to go away. My heart started to beat normally. I didn’t even bother to look at Roméo Dallaire again, don’t want to feel nervous. I managed to make it through to the end. I think people clapped, I was too focused on the song I didn’t pay any attention to my surroundings. I felt really accomplished to sing in front of the whole school and to Roméo Dallaire.

After the event ended, I walked up to Roméo and thanked him for coming. He smiled, shook my hand and gave me a big pat on the back. He really enjoyed my performance, but he preferred to be a little fast paced as a joke. The most memorable thing he told me, was to “Keep singing”. It was an honor to get such praise from him.

I was so happy. I had the honor and the opportunity to sing, and meet him. I’ll never forget that moment for the rest of my life. If I had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at the Saddle dome, or anywhere, or to him again,  I would do it. I believe singing and speaking are very powerful things, and I want to reach my full potential to create change with my voice, and make an impact on people, just like Roméo Dallaire did.


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