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CNN Student News Transcript: Veterans Day Special Edition

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CNN Student News - 11/11/2009

(CNN Student News) -- November 11, 2009

Download PDF maps related to today's show:

Fort Hood, Texas
U.S. Capitol Building
Vietnam Veterans Memorial



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: It's Wednesday, November 11th, and we want to welcome you to this special, Veterans Day edition of CNN Student News. From the CNN Center, I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Fort Hood Memorial

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Their memory will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched. Their life's work is our security and the freedom that we all too often take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that is their legacy.

AZUZ: President Obama, addressing the families of the 13 soldiers who were killed in last Thursday's attack at Fort Hood in Texas. The shooting, which investigators believe was carried out by a single gunman, wounded 42 other people, as well. The president called the violence "incomprehensible" and promised justice for the victims of the attack. He said part of what made the tragedy so painful is the fact that, in a time of war, these soldiers died on American soil.

Yesterday, an estimated 15,000 people took part in a memorial service at Fort Hood honoring the lives that were lost with a moment of silence and special ceremonies. In one, the president and first lady Michelle Obama laid a presidential coin at each of 13 so-called "battlefield crosses," a helmet, boots and rifle which represented each of the people killed. Flags at government buildings across the country have been flying at half-staff as a tribute to the victims.

Authorities still don't know the reasons behind last week's attack. The suspected shooter is in custody and in intensive care at an Army hospital. He was shot several times during the violence. But he's refused to cooperate with investigators and has asked for a lawyer. When the shooting happened, other soldiers responded immediately trying to help the wounded. President Obama says their actions are a reminder of who we are as Americans. People across the country have rallied to support the Fort Hood community in their own ways, putting together donations for the victims.

Is this Legit?

TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? World War I ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. True. November 11, 1918 marked the end of the conflict. President Woodrow Wilson declared it Armistice Day.

Your Salute

AZUZ: And now, it's known as Veterans Day, a time when Americans pay tribute to all the men and women who have served in the armed forces. Since today is the 11th day of the 11th month, that's what people and ceremonies are doing around the country. And it's what a lot of you have been doing on our blog.


AZUZ: When asked what he would say to America's veterans, a student named Hunter wrote, "thank you for your tremendous service for this country and for our safety." It was that sort of gratitude that gave rise to Veterans Day.

"You fight. You go through pain. You protect us. You endure. You do all this to serve the country you love, and it's not an easy task."

Steven's words could be used to honor all of America's servicemen and women, and that is what Veterans Day does. Though its roots are in Armistice Day -- named for November 11th in 1918 when World War I ended -- the name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to include veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and all those who've served in the U.S. military.

People like Nicky's great uncle, who's currently overseas: "I hope you are safe," Nicky writes. "I love and miss you."

And both of Erin's grandfathers: "August who served in the Army and Glenn who served in the Navy. They are my heroes," she says, "as are all others who serve every day putting their lives on the line."

We have students who honored their fathers and mothers, students whose relatives have served everywhere from Europe to Korea, from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ross sends his thanks to "each and every veteran out there, whether they [are] in Afghanistan, here in the U.S. or retired. Veterans are standing up for our country and are willing to do everything for it."

Sara says, "You didn't have to [serve], but you did, and I'm very thankful for that."

And Ayendi wrote in, "A soldier's commitment to this country is unforgettable and will always be remembered."

Couldn't have said it better ourselves.


Wounded Warriors

AZUZ: Earlier this week, we talked about a program that helps wounded veterans recover from their injuries. There's another program that aims to help the men and women of the Armed Forces find a job, and it connects wounded troops who are returning from overseas with the government that they've served. Photojournalist Jeremy Moorhead introduces us to the Wounded Warrior program.


BILL COLLINS, WOUNDED WARRIORS FELLOW: I submitted my resume to almost 300 different positions. I didn't realize it would take 5-6 months before something like this would come along, and I can't express my gratitude for the program being here.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: What we hear about a great deal is jobs for our veterans when they come home. And this is a way for us to serve as a model.

DAN BEARD, CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: We went to the speaker with the idea to create this program, Wounded Warriors. She enthusiastically endorsed it. Our biggest challenge has been finding injured veterans who are interested in working for their member of Congress. It occurred to me that one of the things the House of Representatives could do is lead by example. By employing veterans who've been wounded in either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars - bring them back into the House of Representatives and give them the opportunity of a job -- we developed a fellowship program. We now have 19 participants, 18 of which are in district offices throughout the United States; one of them here.

COLLINS: Hey Justin, Bill Collins here. I was a Marine judge advocate for 16 years. I was a Marine officer, was medically retired as a Major. I was involved in all aspects from military justice, defense and prosecution of military Marines. I had medical complications during both of my deployments. They retired me for medical purposes. I thought 16 years, I really wanted to make it to 20, but I didn't have that choicet. I thought, well, I've got a law degree.

PELOSI: I'm very excited about what you are doing, Bill.

COLLINS: For the program, I'm working for the speaker as an advisor on veterans affairs issues.

PELOSI: We owe them so much thanks for their patriotism, their courage, the sacrifices they and their families make.

BEARD: This is the one program I'm more proud of than anything else I've done. We now have 19 people and we're on our way to 50 people who were injured veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan who we have found jobs for.



BRENDAN GAGE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout. This memorial honors U.S. troops who served in what war? If you think you know it, shout it out. Is it: A) Civil War, B) World War II, C) Vietnam War or D) Gulf War? You've got three seconds -- GO! This is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Maya Lin said she kept its design simple to "allow everyone to respond and remember."

Tributes Find a Home

AZUZ: Some visitors read the approximately 58,000 names carved into the memorial. Others take pictures. And many leave items, objects that have a special meaning. Photojournalist Bethany Swain shows us what happens to these mementos that are left at the wall.


DUERY FELTON, CURATOR, VIETNAM MEMORIAL COLLECTION: People started leaving things in 1982, and they're still leaving things. There was no precedent for this and periodically, the rangers will pick things up at the wall and they'll transport them out to the facility. So in '86, it was decided that this would become a formal collection, and I think last year it was something like 6,000 objects that came in.

I look at us as being voyeurs in many ways. It's left at the wall, so it's special. This is a softball that was left, so you take from it what you will. This facility is not open to the general public. It's a rendering of a POW/MIA tiger cage to draw attention to the MIA: missing in action. This collection is international in scope, just as the Vietnam War was international in scope.

We have over 100,000 objects in the collection. It's more than a collection of sorrows, it's also a celebration of life. We have this object that was left. Jungle boots, the dog tags, the helmet. So, when we say we have 100,000 objects, that's very conservative. Depends upon how you count it. Is this one or is this 300? And we still are not able to determine the nursing school, but it is a nurse's cap. Sometimes people will write messages on the currency: Forget Me Not. It's very profound; simple, but effective. When a person dies, that person doesn't die in a vacuum; not in isolation. Almost 60% of today's population was not alive during Vietnam. You can't tell where you are until you understand where you've been, and we're preserving the past for the future.



AZUZ: On a personal note, CNN Student News would like to salute Mr. Shurtleff and all the teachers who have served our country. There are also a number of servicemen and women watching today's program worldwide. On behalf of all of our staff here in Atlanta, thank you for all that you do.