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Entries in Anniversary (25)

Sunday
May272012

Obamas to Celebrate Memorial Day Honoring Soldiers on Vietnam War 50th Anniversary

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- This Memorial Day, the Obamas and the Bidens plan to celebrate the holiday in an event at the Arlington National Cemetery, where they will honor those who fought in the Vietnam War.
 
“This month, we’ll begin to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, a time when, to our shame, our veterans did not always receive the respect and the thanks they deserved -- a mistake that must never be repeated,” said President Obama on May 16, 2012.
 
The federal government is partnering with state governments, local governments, private organizations and other communities to launch the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. The commemoration serves to honor the more than 3 million men and women who served our country in one of our most challenging conflicts.
 
The ceremony will honor those passed and living, highlight the contributions of those who helped the United States during the war and pay tribute to those who assisted on the home front.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May012012

NYC Increases Security Amidst Concerns of Body Bombs on Osama Anniversary

Saudi fugitive Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. (Saudi Interior Ministry/Landov)(NEW YORK) -- As officials in the U.S. and overseas are stepping up airport security fearing terrorists could use a "body bomb" to target a U.S.-bound plane on the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden, New York City police are planning a security surge of their own for all key transportation hubs Wednesday, law enforcement officials told ABC News.

The officials said the surge is meant to add security for commuters in the face of reports of potential threats even though the FBI and NYPD said there are no known threats whatsoever centered on New York City.

ABC News reported late Monday that officials in the homeland and in Europe feared terrorists could soon target a U.S.-bound flight with explosives hidden inside their bodies. As a result, security at several airports in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East has been substantially stepped up, with a focus on U.S. carriers.

Additional federal air marshals have also been shifted overseas in advance of the anniversary.

A year ago Tuesday night, President Obama announced on live television that bin Laden had been killed in a U.S. raid on a compound in Pakistan. Obama's counter-terrorism advisor, John Brennan, said Monday that never-before seen documents obtained by the U.S. military during the raid will be made available online by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. The Center's website said the release will occur Thursday morning.

Medical experts say there is plenty of room in the stomach area of the body for surgically implanted explosives. "The surgeon would open the abdominal cavity and literally implant the explosive device in amongst the internal organs," explained Dr. Mark Melrose, a New York emergency medicine specialist.

For the last year, U.S. and European authorities have publicly warned that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate, and its master bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, have been designing body bombs with no metal parts to get past airport security.

"We are treating the information seriously," John Pistole, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, told ABC News in 2011.

Asiri placed a bomb inside the rectal cavity of his own brother for a suicide mission aimed at Saudi Arabian intelligence chief Prince Muhammad bin Nayef in 2009. That bomb exploded prematurely, officials said, and the only casualty was Asiri's brother 23-year-old brother Abdullah. Asiri is also believed to be responsible for the "underwear bomb" with which Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to take down Northwest flight 253 on Christmas 2009, and for the printer bombs in the failed cargo bomb plot of 2010.

U.S. officials say there is no credible information of an impending attack. Department of Homeland Security spokesman Peter Boogaard released a statement Monday evening saying, "We have no indication of any specific, credible threats or plots against the U.S. tied to the one-year anniversary of bin Laden's death."

But earlier Monday, White House counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan called the al Qaeda group in Yemen the greatest threat to the U.S.

"AQAP continues to be al Qaeda's most active affiliate, and it continues to seek the opportunity to strike our homeland," said Brennan during a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C.

Brennan said bin Laden admitted al Qaeda had lost its way, agreeing that "a large portion" of Muslims around the world "have lost their trust" in al Qaeda.

Confessing to "disaster after disaster" in al Qaeda plots, Brennan said, bin Laden urged leaders to flee to places "away from aircraft photography and bombardment."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr262012

Bin Laden Anniversary Triggers Law Enforcement Surge

MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- While U.S. officials say publicly there is no specific threat of a terror attack, behind the scenes law enforcement officials tell ABC News there are plans for a major security surge at airports and transportation hubs in advance of next week's anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death.

The precautions are based on intelligence reports that al Qaeda is determined to avenge the death of bin Laden, killed by Navy SEALs last May, with a focus on aviation targets.

Of greatest concern to U.S. officials is al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and its master bombmaker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who has survived repeated U.S. efforts to kill him.

It was al-Asiri, according to U.S. officials, who designed the so-called "underwear bomb" worn by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to bring down Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. Abdulmutallab got the bomb past airport security but failed to detonate it successfully aboard the plane.

Officials say al-Asiri also designed the bombs hidden in printers that were shipped from Yemen to Chicago. The bombs were intercepted in Dubai and the U.K. after they'd been placed aboard cargo planes.

In a joint intelligence bulletin issued overnight, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security said the Yemen group "intends to advance plots along multiple fronts, including renewed efforts to target Western aviation."

"It doesn't take a great number of people to do the kind of attack that we had on September 11," said Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant and former White House counterterrorism official. "That was less than two dozen people and it's clear that they have that number available in places like Yemen today."

Threats of a revenge attack have been monitored by the U.S. ever since last year's raid on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Among the papers found in his home were repeated references to the importance of attacks timed to coincide with anniversaries.

Said Clarke, "I think the major issue for al Qaeda is to do something, to prove that they're still alive, to do some fairly major event or series of attacks that prove that they're not down, they're not out."

As a result, American law enforcement and White House officials say travelers at airports in the U.S. and Europe should expect to see enhanced security over the next several days.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr202012

Columbine Anniversary: Student Film Aims to Help Still-Suffering Victims

MARK LEFFINGWELL/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Thirteen years ago on Friday, Sam Granillo, a Littleton, Colo., high school junior, was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in his school's cafeteria when two students unleashed a deadly attack that would go down in history as one of the country’s most horrific murder sprees.

Granillo and 17 others were trapped in Columbine High School's cafeteria for about three hours until a SWAT team arrived and rescued them.  By the time the April 20, 1999 attack was over, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had murdered 12 students and a teacher, and killed themselves.

Today, Granillo is a film school graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder.  He's 30 years old and works on commercials, films and television shows like Rescue Renovation and American Idol.

Despite the passage of time since the Columbine attacks, Granillo says he is still haunted by nightmares, panic attacks and depression.  Many of his former fellow classmates, he found, are suffering similar symptoms but are finding affordable mental health services hard to come by.  He says some of his friends have gone into deep debt paying for counseling.

So now, on the 13th anniversary of the shooting, Granillo is putting his filmmaking skills to work, producing and directing the first documentary about Columbine by a student who was actually there.

“I started thinking about what I needed to do to create this documentary to raise awareness that we need help,” he said.

Granillo isn’t exactly sure yet what form that help should take -- perhaps a foundation or organization that offers free counseling for anyone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

Making the film, Granillo says, is also part of a journey to help Columbine survivors talk about their experiences.  He’s hoping to take advantage of a “thaw” he senses among some Columbine students who have rarely -- if ever -- spoken publicly about that day.  Some are now opening up to him for the first time.

Granillo says he’s already started recording interviews and has put together short trailers.  So far he’s raised less than $20,000 of the $250,000 he needs to complete the project.  One major expense: travel.  Many former Columbine students no longer live in Colorado, or even the United States.

Another expense is animators.  Rather than using the much-repeated Columbine footage shot from TV news helicopters, Granillo says he’s making a stylistic choice to rely heavily on animation to depict the events of April 20, 1999.

“There’s no reason to show the violent images,” he said.  ”The biggest thing about this is moving forward.  And everything in the past needs to be animated because it gives that feeling that it’s real, but you can’t touch it anymore.”

video platform video management video solutions video player

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Girl Scouts Turn 100 Years Old

Giuliana Nakashima/The Washington Post/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Girl Scouts officially turn 100 years old Monday.

On March 12, 1912, Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout troop in Savannah, Ga.  Low founded the Girl Scouts after meeting Robert Baden Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts.

The Girl Scout Mission statement declares, “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”

Today, there are more than three million girls and adult members involved in Girl Scouts in the U.S., and a total of some 10 million girls and adults in 145 countries.

The organization says more than 50 million American women participated in girl scouting when they were children.

Numerous ceremonies have already marked the centennial, with more events planned throughout the year.

The Girl Scouts have designated 2012 “The Year of the Girl.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan082012

Gabrielle Giffords: Tucson Marks First Anniversary of Shooting

Tom Willett/Getty Images(TUCSON) -- Bells will ring 19 times Sunday morning, once for each victim of the Tucson shooting that happened one year ago, ushering in an emotional day of remembrance that will culminate this evening in a candlelight vigil attended by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

"Congresswoman Giffords wanted to be back in Tucson for this very emotional weekend," said Pia Carusone, Giffords' chief of staff, in a statement.

What was supposed to be an ordinary January morning in Tucson turned into a nightmare that has haunted those who experienced the terror when Jared Lee Loughner, 22, unleashed a barrage of bullets on the crowd, after sending the first one straight through the back of Giffords' head.

After hitting the Congresswoman, Loughner continued to fire from his Glock semi-automatic pistol without discrimination, hitting 18 more people.

Among those hit, six people died, including Gabe Zimmerman, 30, Giffords' outreach director who organized the Congress On Your Corner event where he was shot to death; John Roll, 63, a federal judge; Phyllis Schneck, 79; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwan Stoddard, 76; and Christina Taylor-Green, 9.

As the first anniversary approached, seven survivors of the massacre stepped forward and shared their recollection of Jan. 8, 2011, with the Fix Gun Checks campaign, a byproduct of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign, which seeks to keep criminals from illegally obtaining guns.

"Things went gray for me. I could just see shadows," Randy Gardner said in the video, which was posted online. Gardner was shot in his right foot while waiting to speak with Giffords.

"People were just spreading out in front of me like a wave, trying to go for cover, falling in the ground," he recalled.

Nancy Bowman, a nurse who was only a few steps inside the Safeway when Loughner opened fire at 10:11 a.m., said the scene was a "war zone" and that there was nothing in her 30 year career that could have prepared her for the carnage she witnessed.

"It makes you appreciate every single day," she said in the video. "It makes you wonder why you were five seconds into the Safeway and not standing right there where the gunman was.

What it sure to be a sad and trying day for the victims and the community will close with a ray of hope.

Giffords, who has made miraculous progress in her recovery, will attend a public candlelight vigil Sunday night in Tucson with her husband, Mark Kelly.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec072011

70 Years Later, America Remembers Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii) -- Exactly 70 years ago on Wednesday, the U.S. Navy came under attack by Japan at Pearl Harbor -- a sudden strike that catapulted the United States into WWII.

Then President Franklin D. Roosevelt called Dec. 7, 1941 "a date that will live in infamy," and vowed that "no matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people with their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory."

In all, 2,402 American lives were lost, four battleships were sunk and close to 200 aircraft were destroyed.

To honor the fallen, President Obama has proclaimed Wednesday "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day." In a statement, Mr. Obama said: "On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we honor the more than 3,500 Americans killed or wounded during that deadly attack and pay tribute to the heroes whose courage ensured our Nation would recover from this vicious blow. Their tenacity helped define the Greatest Generation and their valor fortified all who served during World War II.  As a Nation, we look to December 7, 1941, to draw strength from the example set by these patriots and to honor all who have sacrificed for our freedoms."

The president encouraged Americans to, "observe this solemn day of remembrance and to honor our military, past and present, with appropriate ceremonies and activities," and urged them to fly their flags at half-staff.

A moment of silence will be held in Pearl Harbor Wednesday at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time -- the time the attack began.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep142011

9/11 Threat Still Under Investigation But Aspects ‘Eliminated’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Officials from multiple agencies tell ABC News that after six days of the U.S. government pushing its law enforcement and intelligence agencies to full tilt, no significant evidence has turned up to confirm the recent terror threat allegedly aimed at Washington, D.C. and New York.

While some officials remain concerned about the rest of this week in particular, a number of sources say they are almost ready to exhale a little.

“We are getting close to a sigh of relief,” one official said.

Despite the threat information not being confirmed at this time, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Tuesday that the threat was still ongoing.

“The threat has not been resolved and until it is resolved it is an outstanding threat that we are following up on.  Even though Sept. 11 has now passed, we do not believe that that necessarily means we should back down,”  Mueller told the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

“[The FBI], Department of Homeland Security, NCTC [The National Counterterrorism Center], the intelligence agencies are pursuing that as heavily as we have over the last several days and will continue to do so until it’s resolved,” Mueller said.

“We consider it an ongoing threat and we continue to lean forward into confirming that threat,” Napolitano said.

Last week, the DHS and FBI issued a joint bulletin based on threat information from a credible source that there was an ongoing plot to detonate vehicle-born bombs in New York City or Washington, D.C.  The threat prompted a massive police show of force in the cities and sent the intelligence community into a race to try and run the threat information to ground.

Mueller told the Senate Committee Tuesday some actions the FBI has taken: “Since we first had word of that threat we have conducted hundreds of interviews.  We have been pursuing a number of leads and consequently there.  As a result of that, we’ve been now able to eliminate some aspects where we thought that we ought to be looking in order to determine whether it was indeed a valid threat.  But there’s still work to be done.”

Matthew Olsen, the recently confirmed director of the National Counterterrorism Center told the Senate panel, “We’re not prepared to say that it’s been resolved and will continue to work to analyze it and share information about it.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

9/11 Anniversary Photo of Grieving Dad Robert Peraza Touches Family

JUSTIN LANE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A photo of a father's private moment mourning the son he lost on 9/11 went viral Monday much to his surprise and to the surprise of his family, who said they wouldn't have otherwise known about his quiet prayer.

Robert Peraza, 68, had been selected as a reader at the tenth anniversary ceremony Sunday, but before the memorial opened to family members, Peraza took a moment to walk near the memorial's North Pool around 9:45 a.m.

It was there that he found his son's name: Robert David Peraza, who was killed when American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center. Peraza had been working on the 104th floor of the North Tower.

Peraza, thinking he was alone, bent down on one knee, placed one hand over his son's name and prayed.

"I was just honoring Rob," said Peraza, who is Catholic. "I was saying a prayer for his soul."

Justin Lane, a press pool photographer, took Peraza's picture and it soon appeared around the world, showing up Monday on the cover of the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, and the New York Post, to name a few.

Robert Peraza's son Neil Peraza, 38, a finance and accounting director at Hilton, had brought his seven-year-old daughter to New York to attend the anniversary ceremony. They were waiting in the area designated for family members along with Robert Peraza's wife, brother, and two cousins.

"The next thing you know my cellphone would not stop buzzing," Neil Peraza said. "My wife said, 'You have got to see this picture.'"

When he saw his father kneeling in front of his brother's name, the image told him more than words ever could have.

"I was like, 'Oh my god.' It was breathtaking. It kind of sums up how a lot of us were feeling," he said. "My heart breaks for my dad and my mom -- the two of them especially. As a parent now myself, I cannot imagine losing a child."

Neil Peraza and his father are both quick to say 30-year-old Rob Peraza did not "die" on 9/11. They say he was murdered.

"It was a murderous act that happened on 9/11 and we should not forget that," said Robert Peraza, who is now retired from his job as a systems manager at Proctor and Gamble.

Rob D. Peraza, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, was passionate about rugby. In 2002 his family established a scholarship for rugby players at his alma mater, St. Bonaventure University.

It's a sentiment Robert Peraza expressed during the brief time he was allowed to say a few words about his son, after reading the names of 10 others: "Dearest Robert we love you and pray for you every day. We will never forget, we will never forget, we will never forget."

So far the family has raised about $250,000 in scholarship money for Catholic college St. Bonaventure through yearly golf tournament fundraisers and the university's website.

Since 9/11 three incoming students from St. Bonaventure who play rugby, one of Rob Peraza's passions, have benefited from the need-based scholarship.

"Right now we're at a level where we're giving out half tuition. It's a pretty big deal," Neil Peraza said.

The family also established a scholarship for students at Norwich High School in New York.

In August 2001, Peraza's son had written a four-page letter to his family, "saying how wonderful his life was," Robert Peraza told ABCNews.com.

His son was planning on getting engaged and enjoying his job as a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, where 657 others also died on 9/11.

Rob Peraza had been scheduled to run the New York City Marathon in 2001, and was assigned number 1461. He never got to run that race, but in the 10 years since 9/11 a relative has run the race using his number. This year it will be his sister, Joan.

Had Rob seen the picture of his father taken Sunday, Neil said, "I'm sure Rob would be really sad because we're all sad. But I think Rob would be really proud that as a family we're celebrating his life every day."

The Perazas revisited the 9/11 memorial Monday when it opened to the public, and paused once more in front of the North Pool to pay their respects to all 2,753 people who died after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center.

"After 9/11 my wife and I realized that life continues and you have two children you have to live for," Robert Peraza said. "Rob was the kind of young man who would have been very upset if my wife and I wilted."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

9/11 Anniversary Terror Plot? Feds Question, Clear 300 People

Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI has questioned and cleared some 300 people since Friday and still no hard evidence has emerged to corroborate early alarms of a potential Sept. 11 anniversary terror attack, U.S. officials told ABC News, leaving potentially deadly questions unanswered and security still on high alert.

Last week, intelligence emerged from what several officials called a single "credible" source that there was an ongoing plot to launch a vehicle-born bomb attack on New York City or Washington, D.C., prompting a federal bulletin to law enforcement, public announcements by top U.S. officials and a nationwide manhunt for three men.  Since the alarm was first raised, the CIA, FBI and a number of federal and local agencies have been unable to find any evidence to back up the original information.

And though none of the men have been found, the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks passed relatively without incident on Sunday.  Federal and local law enforcement officials said that at least for a while, they won't be backing off the heavy, high-profile security that surrounded the anniversary.

According to former White House counter-terrorism advisor and ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, the business of pulling back on the massive security effort without a resolution to the bomb plot could be tricky business.

"They have to unwind the heavy security very slowly and in gradual steps -- make it appear that some of the heavy security has gone away while actually keeping a lot of surveillance the public won't see," Clarke said.

In New York, police officials said they would maintain the tough security at least through Monday morning.

"The threat for me is fundamentally the same.  It hasn't changed.  We don't have really additional information to add," NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly told ABC News' New York affiliate WABC-TV on Sunday, referring to the alleged bomb plot.  "But there's no reason to lessen our alert status."

The FBI will continue its expanded security effort through the day and perhaps as long as it takes to investigate the alleged bomb plot, law enforcement officials told ABC News.  The Department of Homeland Security is following suit, maintaining additional security at major transportation hubs and federal buildings.

In addition to the FBI interviews, a public alert about the potential plot also drew hundreds of citizen reports about suspicious packages and individuals.

In two separate instances on the 9/11 anniversary, fighter jets were scrambled to escort passenger planes after passengers on the flights allegedly acted "suspiciously."  But in both cases, the suspicious activity turned out to be non-terror-related -- one case of frequent bathroom trips, another of a couple "making out" in the lavatory, federal officials said Sunday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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