Entries in Memorial (26)


Officials Reach Agreement to Complete 9/11 Museum

David Handschuh-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- On the eve of the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the Port Authority and The National September 11 Memorial Museum have reached an agreement to continue construction on the museum after months of delays.

The deal between the Port Authority and the museum ensures construction will be restarted soon and will continue until the museum is completed.  

"Today's agreement puts in place a critical and long overdue safeguard to finally protect toll payers and taxpayers from bearing further costs, and, at the same time, put the project on a path for completion," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweeted his favor for the announcement: "@NYCMayorsOffice: Very gratifying that on the eve of this important anniversary we have an agreement that will ensure the completion of the 9/11 Museum."

Construction has been halted since last December, when a dispute over which agencies would finance the museum's construction broke out between the museum and the Port Authority, which owns the land. The Port Authority of New York/New Jersey is under the shared jurisdiction of Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Mayor Bloomberg oversees the Sept. 11 foundation behind the memorial and museum, according to the New York Times.

The Times reports that, under the terms of the agreement, the Sept. 11 foundation will provide the Port Authority with financial data related to the project and will supply $12 million for the museum construction.  Another $1 million per year for 30 years will be provided from surplus funds beginning in 2018, the newspaper reports. A formal transfer of land ownership from the Port Authority to the Sept. 11 foundation will also take place.

There's no word yet on a completion date, but construction is expected to continue beyond the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, according to the New York Daily News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Neil Armstrong to Have Private Funeral Friday

NASA(WASHINGTON) -- Neil Armstrong, remembered after his death Saturday as a quiet man, is to have a quiet funeral on Friday near his Cincinnati home, NASA confirmed Monday. The service is to be private, though Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who called Armstrong “a good friend and adviser,” will be there for a eulogy. While there have been discussions of a national memorial service, nothing has been confirmed yet.

The White House issued a proclamation Monday afternoon that flags would fly at half-staff on Friday. The Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Armstrong’s birth place of Wapakoneta, Ohio, plans a tribute Wednesday night; Purdue University in Indiana, where he studied engineering, announced a late-afternoon memorial to take place Monday.  Streaming video of the service can be found on the Purdue website.

So far everything is in keeping with his family’s description of him -- “a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job.”

Armstrong -- who commanded the world’s attention in 1969 when he became the first human being to walk on the moon -- died Saturday of complications following heart surgery.  His family would not say where he died, though he had spent the last several decades in his native Ohio.

There were tributes from around the world -- from President Obama and Mitt Romney, from fellow astronauts and celebrities -- but his family asked people to dispense with words.

"Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty,” they said in their statement announcing his death, “and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


CIA Identifies, Memorializes Fallen Covert Officers

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(LANGLEY, Va.) -- The CIA has revealed the identities of 15 of its fallen officers, some of whose secret ties to the spy agency are being made public for the first time in almost three decades.

Engraved on a memorial wall at the CIA’s headquarters building in Northern Virginia are 103 stars, each representing a CIA officer who perished in the line of duty since the agency’s founding in 1947. For some, the star is all the public recognition they have -- many names have still not been made public out of concern for secret operations.

At a memorial ceremony Monday, CIA Director David Petraeus praised their service, saying the “103 souls represented by the stars on the wall behind me all heard the same call to duty and answered it without hesitation -- never for acclaim, always for country.”

The latest of the 103 was added this year, honoring Jeff Patneau, who was killed in a 2008 car crash in Yemen. Petraeus described Patneau as having “boundless talent, courage, and innovativeness to offer our country in its fight against terrorism.”

A CIA statement released Tuesday said Patneau was among the 15 names inscribed in the CIA’s Book of Honor this year, which allows “agency officers to publicly acknowledge those who have been represented by stars and whom we have silently mourned for years.”

Some of the individuals whose service as CIA officers was publicly confirmed Tuesday have been the object of speculation in the past as having worked for the spy agency.

For example, Matthew K. Gannon died in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Officially listed as a Foreign Service Officer for the State Department, Gannon’s links to the CIA appeared in press reports at the time of the crash.  However, the agency never officially confirmed that he was a CIA officer until this week.

Leslianne Shedd died in November 1996 in the high-profile crash of a hijacked plane off the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean.  Videotape of the plane’s fatal attempted water landing just off of a crowded tourist beach was seen around the world.  Shedd was also described as being a Foreign Service Officer.  According to the CIA statement, “Survivors of that flight tell us that Leslianne -- an outstanding young woman -- spent her final moments comforting those around her. ”

Another victim of terror was Molly N. Hardy, who was killed in the August 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. According to the CIA, Hardy “used her keen situational awareness to warn colleagues to take cover. ”

A former intelligence official told ABC News the CIA takes “very seriously” the process of when to publicly release the names of its fallen officers and publicly acknowledge their ties to the agency.

According to the official, the agency conducts thorough reviews of a fallen officer’s work history and takes into account any security and operational considerations.  The official said another factor is “the possible impact that making public the officer’s name might have on current missions and overseas relationships. ”

The seriousness with which the CIA decides when to publicly acknowledge a fallen officer’s links to the agency may be a reason why five of the officers were not named until Wednesday, despite having been killed back in 1983 in a car bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Beirut that killed 63.

The five who are listed as having worked for the agency are Phyliss Nancy Faraci, Deborah M. Hixon,  Frank J. Johnston, James F. Lewis and his wife Monique N. Lewis.

According to the CIA statement Faraci “was one of the last four Americans evacuated from the Mekong Delta when Saigon fell. She was an intensely devoted officer who volunteered to work in Beirut. ”

Monique Lewis “was only hours into her first day as an agency officer when the bomber struck that terrible day.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Roll of Honor: A Modern Memorial for Fallen Veterans

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It is difficult not to be moved when visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.  For most it is heart wrenching to see the toll of that war so vividly laid out, with more than 58,000 names etched in stone.

One of those chiseled names is Leonard Lanzarin, or Larry to his friends.

Lanzarin was just 19 when he joined the army in 1969 and was sent to Vietnam.  He would die there a year later from malaria.  His fiancé at the time, Melinda Valle, still grieves.

"He was a person, a young person with hopes and dreams," she said.  Valle has been to the Wall, but for her it was "devastating … because there was no face to his name.  He was so much more than something carved in granite."

Now, Valle and others who have lost loved ones in military conflicts can put a face to the name on a virtual wall.  Called the Roll of Honor, it has been part of a larger website, TogetherWeServe, accessible only to members of the military.

But founder Brian Foster says it's time to go public.

"These profiles have been private for so long," said Foster.  "We felt it fitting that these profiles be in the public view … to ensure that families across America [can] apply to make the profile as complete and accurate for posterity."

Foster, who was born in Scotland and did business with the U.S. military, spent millions of his own money to create TogetherWeServe, a social networking site for veterans in 2002, even before Facebook was launched.

"We were doing this while Zuckerberg was doing his exams," laughed Foster.  

Part of that website was set aside for the Roll of Honor, which already includes 100,000 fallen profiles, with information on all of those who lost their lives in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and some who died in World War II and Korea.

"We know a great deal more fell in World War II and Korea", Foster said.  "And even though we have a profile for everyone who fell in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, many are not as complete as they could be."

Time is running out.  Of the 24 million veterans in the U.S. today, about half are from World War II, and Foster says "they are passing at a rate of 4,000 a day.  It is our objective to try to capture the stories of these service people before it's too late."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mary Kennedy's Body Released Amid Family Feud  

Mary Richardson Kennedy and her son, Conor Kennedy, in 2009. Jason Kempin/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The body of Robert Kennedy Jr.'s wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy, was released by authorities to a funeral home Friday amid a family struggle over burial rights.

The body was released after her estranged husband got a court order directing the Westchester County medical examiner turn over the body to the Clark Associates Funeral Home. Clark Associates has been preparing for a funeral at Kennedy's request.

The Medical Examiner's office had refused to release Kennedy's body to Clark Associates because Mary Kennedy's siblings and her estranged husband's family were fighting over where she would be buried, multiple sources told ABC News.

Clark Associates expects a private wake either Friday night or Saturday morning at one of the family's homes, and then a funeral at 10 a.m. Saturday. The location was not disclosed.

The Kennedys planned to bury her near the Kennedy family's compound in Hyannisport, Mass., on Cape Cod.

Mary Kennedy, 52, died Wednesday of asphyxiation from hanging at her home in Westchester County, N.Y., according to the medical examiner. Kennedy and her husband, Robert Kennedy, Jr., had been separated since 2010 but were not legally divorced.

Mary Kennedy's brothers and sister, however, are planning a sunset memorial Monday night at the Standard Hotel in Manhattan. Mary Kennedy grew up in New Jersey, where her father was a professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. Her mother lived in Bayonne, N.J., until her death.

"The first task is for Mary's family to take her to her final resting place, with the dignity and love she deserves," her siblings wrote in a statement released today.

None of Mary Kennedy's family returned calls from ABC News for comment on their sister's death. They released the statement to combat what they saw as a mischaracterization of their sister in news reports following her death, they wrote.

"She was generous, thoughtful, with a refined aesthetic, genius organizational abilities, boundless energy, physical stamina, and natural elegance. She laughed a lot. Her enthusiasms were deep. She loved to connect people, with no self-interest, and with great intelligence," the statement read.

Following her death, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., told the New York Times that his estranged wife had been struggling with depression.

"A lot of times I don't know how she made it through the day," Kennedy, Jr., told the newspaper. "She was in a lot of agony for a lot of her life."

The pair had broken up in 2010 and Mary Kennedy faced difficulties with alcohol during the intervening years. She was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs on two different occasions.

The couple had four children together.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Pays Tribute to Fallen Police Officers

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama Tuesday honored police officers who died in the line of duty and their families, saying the nation is “forever in your debt."

“Every American who wears the badge knows the burdens that come with it -- the long hours and the stress; the knowledge that just about any moment could be a matter of life or death. You carry these burdens so the rest of us don’t have to,” the president told an audience of thousands gathered outside the Capitol Building for the annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service.

“The rest of us can never fully understand what you go through. But please know that we hold you in our hearts -- not just today, but always. We are forever in your debt. And it is on behalf of all of us, the entire American people, that I offer my thoughts, my prayers, and my thanks,” Obama said.

The president paid tribute to three officers who sacrificed their lives to save others: Detective John Falcone of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Deputy Bryan Gross of Douglas, Wyo.; and Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Hopper of Clark County, Ohio.

“Our country’s law enforcement officers use force when they have to. They are well armed and they are well trained. But they never forget that theirs is a mission of peace,” the president said. “Their job is to keep the peace, to allow all of us to enjoy peace in our neighborhoods and for our families. And today, with heavy hearts, we honor those who gave their lives in the service of that mission. Their families are in our thoughts and prayers, as we remember the quiet courage of the men and women we have lost.”

Following his brief speech, the president spent over half an hour meeting with the families of the fallen. Tuesday marked the second time the president has addressed the event.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Whitney Houston's Body in NJ; Public Memorial 'Going to Be Big'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- With Whitney Houston’s body back in her home state of New Jersey, the 48-year-old singer's funeral is likely days away.  And like her career, it could be a sensation.

A source in the family confirmed to ABC News late Monday that plans are in place for a family service on Thursday and a public memorial at the Prudential Center -- an indoor arena in Newark that can accommodate nearly 20,000 people -- on Friday.

Asked if the memorial would be on the scale of Michael Jackson’s 2009 memorial at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, the source said, “It’s going to be big.”

Much of the Houston family has left Los Angeles for New Jersey.  Her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, and Houston’s brother-in-law and bodyguard, Ray Watson, are among the family members who are now back in the Garden State.  So is the fallen singer's body, which was transported across the country in a private jet Monday night after being released by the Los Angeles coroner.

According to ABC News’ New York affiliate WABC-TV, Houston’s funeral arrangements are expected to be handled by the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, N.J. -- the same place that handled arrangements for her father in 2003.  The home isn’t far from the New Hope Baptist Church, where Houston began her lifetime of singing in the church’s choir.

Houston’s father, John Houston, was laid to rest in a cemetery in Westfield, N.J.  Some have speculated that she will be buried alongside him.

Houston’s reps did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fans and Friends Gather to Remember Dan Wheldon

Nick Laham/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Friends and fans of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon gathered in Indianapolis on Sunday to remember the driver, only a week after the 33-year-old died in a fiery 15-car crash during the 11th lap of a race in Las Vegas.

Wheldon’s wife of three-and-a-half years, Susie, laughed and wiped away tears as Dan’s closest confidantes paid tribute to their friend, who they said had a one-of-a-kind personality.

“It’s just me being me, baby!” said Jeff Belskus, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, summing up Wheldon’s unique flair.

One of Wheldon’s managers, Mickey Ryan, remembered a fun night out on the town in 2005 after Wheldon won his first Indianapolis 500.

The only problem?  Wheldon was scheduled to begin doing media interviews at 6 a.m. the next day.  Although Wheldon’s posse partied into the wee hours of the morning, he was up in time for his first interview.

Despite a massive hangover, Ryan said Wheldon “nailed it like a pro.”  But later in the day, the lack of sleep caught up with Wheldon, who fell asleep while he was waiting to do a radio phone interview.

His 2011 Indy 500 victory, however, was different.

“It was all about the family,” said Wheldon’s other manager, Adrian Sussmann.  “He simply had to have a trophy and pace car for each of his boys!”

Wheldon leaves behind two sons, Sebastian, 2, and Oliver, 8 months.

“Dan understood the racing character,” Belskus said.  “His heart belonged to the sport he loved.”

Wheldon, who was born in Emberton, England, began racing go-karts at the age of four, after his father introduced him to competitive racing.

He moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1999 and joined the IndyCar series in 2003.  Aside from his two Indianapolis 500 wins, Wheldon posted impressive stats as his career revved up.  In eight full seasons, he had 132 career starts, collected 26 top-three finishes, 93 top-10 finishes and five pole positions, and also won the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

Wheldon was laid to rest in his adopted hometown of St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Says Country Needs to Listen Again to MLK’s Teachings

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Martin Luther King’s teachings are as relevant as ever, in this day when politics in America have become sharply polarized and people appear to be losing faith in our institutions, President Obama said Sunday at the official dedication of the civil rights leader’s monument on the national mall.

“I know we will overcome,” Obama said, standing next to the memorial, which includes a 30-foot statue of King. “I know there are better days ahead. I know this because of the man towering over us. I know this because all he and his generation endured.”

Obama, the nation’s first black president, told a large crowd that the King memorial is a monument to the collective achievement of the civil rights generation. He said that without King’s work, specifically his “I Have a Dream” speech on the national mall, the country might not have had the courage to overcome segregation and Jim Crow laws.

“Because of Dr. King’s moral imagination, barricades began to fall and bigotry began to fade, and the doors of opportunity swung open for an entire generation,” said Obama, who was 7 years old when King was killed.

The president said he hopes his two daughters take away from the monument a faith in what they can accomplish when they are determined and working for a righteous cause.

“This sculpture, massive and iconic as it is, will remind them of Dr. King’s strength, but to see him only as larger than life would do a disservice to what he taught us about ourselves,” he said.

“He would want them to know that he had setbacks, because they will have setbacks,” Obama said. “It was precisely because Dr. King was a man of flesh and blood and not a figure of stone, that he inspires us so. His life, his story tells us that change can come if you don’t give up.”

The president tried to connect King’s message to the present, sharing what he thinks King would tell Americans.

“At this moment, when our politics appear so sharply polarized, faith in our institutions so greatly diminished, we need more than ever to take heed to Dr. King’s teachings,” Obama said.

“If he were alive today, I believe that he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there. That the businessman can enter tough negotiations with his company’s unions without vilifying the right to collectively bargain,” he said. “He would want us to know that we can argue fiercely about the proper size and role of government without questioning each other’s love for this country.”

Obama also reminded the crowd that the progress King helped create did not happen overnight.

“It is right for us to celebrate Dr. King’s marvelous oratory, but it is worth remembering that progress did not come from words alone. Progress was hard,” the president said. “Progress was purchased through enduring the smack of billy clubs and blast of fire hoses. It was built through stays in jail cells. Nights of bomb threats.”

Before his remarks, Obama and his family walked the walls of the monument along with members of King’s family.

Connecting his own legacy to that of King, Obama placed a signed copy of his presidential inauguration address and a signed copy of his 2008 Democratic National Convention speech in Denver into a time capsule at the memorial. Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 2008 on the 40th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


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

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

ABC News Radio