Violence erupts in Rwanda, foreshadowing genocide of 800,000 On this day in 1994, violence fuels the launch of what would become the worst episode of genocide since World War II: the massacre of an estimated 500,000 to 1 million innocent civilian Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Following the first wave of massacres, Rwandan forces manage to discourage international intervention with the murder of 10 Belgian peacekeeping officers. The Tutsis, a minority group that made up about 10 percent of Rwanda’s population, received no assistance from the international community, although the United Nations later conceded that a mere 5,000 soldiers deployed at the outset would have stopped the wholesale slaughter. The immediate roots of the 1994 genocide dated back to the early 1990s, when President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, began using anti-Tutsi rhetoric to consolidate his power among the Hutus. Beginning in October 1990, there were several massacres of hundreds of Tutsis. Although the two ethnic groups were very similar, sharing the same language and culture for centuries, the law required registration based on ethnicity. The government and army began to assemble the Interahamwe (meaning “those who attack together”) and prepared for the elimination of the Tutsis by arming Hutus with guns and machetes. In January 1994, the United Nations forces in Rwanda warned that larger massacres were imminent. On April 6, 1994, President Habyarimana was killed when his plane was shot down. It is not known if the attack was carried out by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi military organization stationed outside the country at the time, or by Hutu extremists trying to instigate a mass killing. In any event, Hutu extremists in the military, led by Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, immediately went into action, murdering Tutsis and moderate Hutus within hours of the crash. The Belgian peacekeepers were killed the next day, a key factor in the withdrawal of U.N. forces from Rwanda. Soon afterward, the radio stations in Rwanda were broadcasting appeals to the Hutu majority to kill all Tutsis in the country. The army and the national police directed the slaughter, sometimes threatening Hutu civilians when persuasion didn’t work. Thousands of innocent people were hacked to death with machetes by their neighbors. Despite the horrific crimes, the international community, including the United States, hesitated to take any action. They wrongly ascribed the genocide to chaos amid tribal war. President Bill Clinton later called America’s failure to do anything to stop the genocide “the biggest regret” of his administration. It was left to the RPF, led by Paul Kagame, to begin an ultimately successful military campaign for control of Rwanda. By the summer, the RPF had defeated the Hutu forces and driven them out of the country and into several neighboring nations. However, by that time, an estimated 75 percent of the Tutsis living in Rwanda had been murdered. 1805 Lewis and Clark depart Fort Mandan After a long winter, the Lewis and Clark expedition departs its camp among the Mandan Indians and resumes its journey West along the Missouri River. The Corps of Discovery had begun its voyage the previous spring, and it arrived at the large Mandan and Minnetaree villages along the upper Missouri River (north of present-day Bismarck, North Dakota) in late October. Once at the villages, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark directed the men to build a sturdy log fort. The following winter was a harsh one, but the expedition had plenty of provisions. The two captains made the best of their enforced halt, making copious notes in their journals and preparing maps of their route. Most importantly, they met frequently with the local Indians, who provided them with valuable information about the mysterious country that lay ahead. As spring came to the upper Missouri, Lewis and Clark prepared to resume their journey. Lewis penned a long report for President Thomas Jefferson that would be sent back down to St. Louis with 16 men traveling on the expedition’s large keelboat. Although Lewis had yet to explore any truly unknown country, his report provided a good deal of valuable information on the upper Missouri River region and its inhabitants. He optimistically predicted the expedition would be able to reach the Pacific and make a good start on the return journey before the coming winter. “You may therefore expect me to meet you at Monachello [Monticello] in September 1806,” he told the president. In fact, the journey was more difficult and slow than Lewis anticipated. The expedition actually spent the winter of 1805-06 along the Pacific Coast, and Lewis did not finally meet with Thomas Jefferson in Washington, D.C., until January 1, 1807. However, as Lewis and Clark prepared to leave Fort Mandan on this day in 1805, they did not know the trials ahead and were likely filled with optimism and excitement. As the keelboat shoved off and started down the Missouri with Lewis’ report to Jefferson, the Corps of Discovery (and their female guide, Sacagawea) resumed the far more difficult task of rowing their small boats upstream. That night Lewis wrote in his journal that, “Our vessels consisted of six small canoes, and two large pirogues. This little fleet altho’ not quite so rispectable as those of Columbus or Capt. Cook, were still viewed by us with as much pleasure as those deservedly famed adventurers ever beheld theirs.” As Lewis began his journey into a land “on which the foot of civilized man had never trodden,” he proclaimed this day of departure as “among the most happy of my life.” 1970 John Wayne wins Best Actor Oscar On this day in 1970, the legendary actor John Wayne wins his first–and only–acting Academy Award, for his star turn in the director Henry Hathaway’s Western True Grit. Wayne appeared in some 150 movies over the course of his long and storied career. He established his tough, rugged, uniquely American screen persona most vividly in the many acclaimed films he made for the directors John Ford and Howard Hawks from the late 1940s into the early 1960s. He earned his first Oscar nomination, in the Best Actor category, for Sands of Iwo Jima (1949). The Alamo (1960), which Wayne produced, directed and starred in, earned a Best Picture nomination. Wayne’s Oscar for True Grit at the 42nd annual Academy Awards in 1970 was generally considered to be a largely sentimental win, and a long-overdue reward for one of Hollywood’s most enduring performers. The Academy had failed to even nominate Wayne for any of his most celebrated performances, in films such as Stagecoach (1939), Red River (1948), The Quiet Man (1952), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and especially Ford’s The Searchers (1956), considered by many to be the greatest Western ever made. In True Grit, Wayne played a drunken, foul-tempered but endearing U.S. marshal named Rooster Cogburn, who becomes an unlikely hero when he helps a young girl avenge the murder of her father. He would reprise the role in the film’s sequel, Rooster Cogburn (1975), opposite Katharine Hepburn. Nominated for seven Oscars at the 42nd annual awards ceremony that night, John Schlesinger’s gritty urban drama Midnight Cowboy won in the Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay categories. The film’s stars, Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, were both nominated in the Best Actor category but lost out to Wayne. Richard Burton (as King Henry VIII in Anne of the Thousand Days) and Peter O’Toole (as the beloved schoolmaster Arthur Chipping in Goodbye, Mr. Chips) rounded out the category. It was the fourth of what would be eight career nominations (and no wins) for O’Toole. In 1964, Wayne battled lung cancer, undergoing surgery to remove his entire left lung. He went public with news of his illness in hopes of convincing people to remain vigilant about cancer. In his last movie, The Shootist (1976), Wayne portrayed an aging gunfighter dying of cancer. Three years later, the great actor himself succumbed to stomach cancer at the age of 72 on June 11, 1979.