Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


Encore Presentation: CNN 25: Then and Now

Aired December 10, 2005 - 15:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: They were breaking news then, the men and women of the hour.

HEIDI FLEISS, FORMER "HOLLYWOOD MADAM": Alexander the Great conquered the world at 32. I did it at 22.

ANNOUNCER: Everybody wanted to see them, hear from them, and know more about them.

KATO KAELIN, O.J. SIMPSON TRIAL WITNESS: Everybody has their own agenda, and they all want something.

ANNOUNCER: Then, the news moved on, and so did their lives.

MARK POPERNACK, RESCUED COAL MINER: Life is precious, and we got a second chance at it and we don't forget it.

ANNOUNCER: The most intriguing newsmakers of the past 25 years, where they were then and where they are now.


LARRY KING, HOST: Hello, I'm Larry King. Welcome to our CNN 25 special "Then & Now."

Our 25th year is coming to a close, during the past 12 months we've been looking back at some of the people and events that have made their mark on CNN. From business leaders and celebrities to medical advancers and innovations that have transformed our lives.

But people have always been the heart of any story. During the next hour, we'll be checking in with some of the newsmakers of CNN's first 25 years. We'll see what they're doing now.

Let's begin with the survivors. Natural disasters are always big news stories, but some people face the storm, the flood, or the earthquake with remarkable strength and resolve.

John Zarrella has more on those who felt the power of nature's fury and lived to tell an incredible story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There was no warning in the fall of 1989 when the ground began to shake violently in the San Francisco Bay Area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The game will be postponed.

ZARRELLA: Baseball fans witnessed the stunning disruption of the third game of the world of the World Series at Candlestick Park. The 7.1 earthquake was a stark reminder of Mother Nature's indiscriminate power.

In the Marina District, a major blaze threatened a collapsed apartment building. Inside, Sherra Cox was trapped in the rubble. Firefighter Gerry Shannon fought to save her life.

GERRY SHANNON, RESCUED EARTHQUAKE VICTIM: And so she was on the ground and there was part of her window showing, and that's where I went in.

And so I started yelling, is there anybody in there?

SHERRA COX, 1989 SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR: And I shouted and said, yes, I'm here.

SHANNON: It was a race for time there. I mean, the building that we were under was now on fire.

COX: And I never doubted for a moment that he wouldn't get me out.

I was on a stretcher and then I kept saying, where's Gerry?

SHANNON: And I went over and she pulled my neck down and said, you're my hero.

COX: When I think about the earthquake at all or what happened, I mostly feel today that I'm what's very fortunate.

SHANNON: I was amazed at her attitude. You know, here's a woman that lost everything in 10 seconds.

COX: April 29th was Gerry's birthday, and I usually remember it, he's still my hero. Good thing do happen out of really terrible situations.

ZARRELLA: It was early morning when Mother Nature's fury slammed to southern Florida 13 years ago. When the winds stilled, it was the costliest natural disaster on record at the time, with 23 people dead, tens of thousands homeless, and nearly $30 billion in damage.

Jose Romero remembers that morning well, as the wind howled and roared.

JOSE ROMERO, HURRICANE ANDREW SURVIVOR: I mean, it just sounded terrifying. The scariest part was the walls, they started to shake.

ZARRELLA: Outside, the devastation seemed surreal.

ROMERO: It's weird to see everything just so flattened. You know, we had 15, 20 houses on the block. There was only like five or six even standing.

ZARRELLA: Recalling the experience that uprooted his childhood is still painful.

Today, Jose Romero manages the lumber yard his family rebuilt after Andrew caused them millions of dollars in damage. While Romero can't ever imagine leaving Florida, he doesn't want to tempt fate.

ROMERO: Even if a small one comes, I would get out of here.

ZARRELLA: The morning after Christmas in Thailand last year began like any other day in paradise. Like other tourists that morning, Czech beauty and Sports Illustrated cover model Petra Nemcova and her British boyfriend, fashion photographer Simon Atlee, were enjoying their final hours on holiday in Thailand.

Then the unthinkable happened.

PETA NEMCOVA, TSUNAMI SURVIVOR: There was one wave and there was a second wave.

ZARRELLA: Within minutes, Nemcova and her boyfriend were swept from their bungalow without warning and separated forever.

NEMCOVA: It's just crazy how something can go from a fairy tale to a nightmare. And in the split second, you lose everything.

ZARRELLA: Atlee was one of nearly 400 tourists who died that day. The total death toll was much higher, nearly 200,000 people perished along the Indian Ocean, from Malaysia to Somalia.

Miraculously, Nemcova caught hold of a tree and held until her rescue eight hours later, in extreme pain, her pelvis shattered by debris.

NEMCOVA: One of the worst things just you hear people and children screaming, and after half an hour, you don't hear them any more, and you know that they didn't have the strength to hold on.

ZARRELLA: Now, nearly a year later, Nemcova's injuries have healed.

NEMCOVA: It made me appreciate every little thing. I felt like a newborn baby learning how to sit down, how to stand up, how to walk.

ZARRELLA: She created the Happy Hearts Fund benefit the youngest survivors of the tsunami. The charity will provide support for children and tsunami orphans.

NEMCOVA: So join me and do something, do something good.

ZARRELLA: Her positive attitude is a tribute to the love she lost on the shores of Thailand.

NEMCOVA: One of his favorite sayings was, a day without laughter is a day wasted. And that's how I try to live.

ZARRELLA: It may be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama, killing at least 1,300 people. But it was the devastating flooding from New Orleans to Mobile that displaced thousands of families from their homes and each other.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is she now?

JACKSON: Can't find her body, she's gone. I held her hand as tight as I could, and she told me, you can't hold me.

ZARRELLA: That was Hardy Jackson three months ago. Now the Biloxi native, his three children and three grandchildren have resettled far away from the devastation to Mississippi. R&B singer Frankie Beverly purchased a home for the Jackson family near his sister's house outside Atlanta, Georgia.

JACKSON: It's a miracle, really, and I thank him, and that's a blessing.

ZARRELLA: Despite a fresh start, Jackson is haunted by his wife's last words, as Katrina's raging waters ripped her from his grasp.

JACKSON: She said, take care of them kids and take care of them grandkids.

ZARRELLA: That promise to his wife of 28 years keeps him going despite the grief.

JACKSON: I've just got to be strong, but it's hard, but I can do it.


KING: Living their lives in the shadow of the storm. Later, a look at survivors of a different kind, the men, women, and children who lived through everything from shark attacks to kidnappings to being shot down behind enemy lines.


SCOTT O'GRADY, FORMER AIR FORCE CAPTAIN: I realized that maybe I might not come home alive.

ANNOUNCER: There's more to come on CNN's "Then & Now." From Berlin to Tiananmen, the people behind the events that created a new world order.

And... DR. MAE JEMISON, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: It was really after we got in orbit that I had a sensation that I belonged anywhere in this universe.

ANNOUNCER: Reaching for the stars. The astronauts who represented the very best of the U.S. space program.


KING: When CNN went on the air back in 1980, the Cold War was in full swing, and American hostages had recently been released from Iran. Jim Clancy takes a look at some of the people who were involved in events that have come to symbolize the strength of the human spirit.


JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was already famous for negotiating the release of hostages in Iran, Libya, and Lebanon, when the tables turned on Terry Waite. On January 20th, 1987, the six foot seven negotiator vanished.

Accused of being an American agent, he says he was not, Terry Waite was taken hostage in Beirut. For nearly five years he endured beatings, interrogations, solitary confinement, before he emerged a free man.

In seclusion, he wrote about his ordeal in his 1993 book "Taken on Trust."

TERRY WAITE, HELD HOSTAGE FOR FIVE YEARS: It enabled me to come back to the world slowly and gently.

CLANCY: Now, Terry Waite splits his time between his charity work with victims of war, poverty, and disease around the world. About six months out of the year, he lectures and writes, all inspired by his hostage experience.

This grandfather of three, who enjoys travel, music, and books, has no intention of retiring even though he is approaching 70.

WAITE: I'm immensely fortunate to be able to be involved in so many different projects, and I would like to think that they are doing something to help heal a world.

CLANCY: Time has not healed the political wounds opened in China during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations of April, 1989. It began peacefully, Beijing University students mourning the death of a former government leader who supported the student movement for democracy. But the students' memorial turned into a people's protest that lasted nearly six weeks.

Wang Dan was one of the student leaders.

WANG DAN, PRO-DEMOCRACY DEMONSTRATOR: I saw the power of the people at that moment. It's a really big power of the people. It was the first time in the history of the Republic of China that people go the streets without the allowance from the government.

CLANCY: The Chinese government imposed martial law at the end of May, but the protests continued until troops moved in on June 4th. It still isn't known how many people were jailed, wounded, or killed.

DAN: Those people who died, I really feel deep sorrow for them, because I was the leader and I led them to go to the square.

CLANCY: Wang Dan was imprisoned twice for his actions and eventually released in exile in the U.S. He has published 17 books and is studying for his Ph.D. at Harvard.

DAN: If I have a chance to go back to China, of I still will -- involved in political activities or other activities to try to promote human rights and democracy.

CLANCY: Democracy and freedom was also at the heart of a young video journalist mission against the Iron Curtain. Twenty-seven-year- old Aram Radomski's video of communist East Germany crumbling, hopelessly polluted, restless, helped topple the Berlin Wall.

He then spirited his tapes to Western television, which beamed them back into East Germany.

ARAM RADOMSKI, AMATEUR VIDEO JOURNALIST (through translator): Our pictures on TV were a reason people took to the streets.

CLANCY: Fifteen years later, unemployment hovers around 20 percent in the east.

RADOMSKI (through translator): Capitalism isn't so easy. I tried to look at realistically, that you have to help yourself to find your place.

CLANCY: Radomski found his, designing wall paper for homes, bars, theaters, and film sets. After helping to tear down one wall, he is covering others. His now as free as his spirit.


KING: New freedoms are making way for new challenges in a world that continues to become smaller. And from terrorism to pandemics, some challenges will continue to know no borders.


ANNOUNCER: There's more to come on CNN's "Then & Now." Firsts in flight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Liftoff of STS-7 and America's first woman astronaut.

ANNOUNCER: The astronauts who broke down barriers, how they have worked to change the world after they came back to Earth.

And the scandals that made the news into a soap opera and created some unlikely household names.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heidi, do you think you will give the names in the black book?



KING: CNN was not around when man first walked on the moon, but we were witness to many important firsts in the space program. Miles O'Brien, who else, takes a look at some of the astronauts we will never forget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Godspeed John Glenn.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He has got "The Right Stuff," the first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn, became an instant American hero. Later, inspired by Bobby Kennedy, he ran for political office, become a U.S. senator from Ohio.

He served for 24 years until 1998. Glenn left Capitol Hill and surly bonds of Earth one more time, at the age of 77 became the oldest person ever to go into space.


O'BRIEN: Now 84, Glenn is far from retired, dividing his time between Ohio and Washington, where he serves on a NASA advisory board.

JOHN GLENN, FORMER ASTRONAUT: I don't retirement would be much fun anyway.

O'BRIEN: He and his wife Annie have founded the John Glenn Institute for Public Service at Ohio State University where he served as an adjunct professor.

GLENN: Mainly involved was letting the students know the value of public service and public participation and politics.

O'BRIEN: Glenn is also still involved in politics, serving as a delegate at the 2004 Democratic Convention.

GLENN: It has been a very active life and one that I could not have foreseen at all when I was a kid growing up back in New Concord, Ohio.

O'BRIEN: From the dreams of a young Ohio boy to the equally lofty aspirations of a California girl with a passion for science.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Liftoff of STS-7 and America's first woman astronaut.

O'BRIEN: NASA sent 82 men into space in 22 years. Then in 1983, crewman became crew members. Sally Ride became America's first woman astronaut, realizing her dream not once but twice. As a member of the Shuttle Challenger's crew, she conducted experiments in communications, medicine, and Earth environment. Ride was also on the shuttle's next flight a year later, but her plans for a third trip were halted when the Challenger exploded in 1986, killing all on board.

Today she is using her love of science to motivate others.


Things like TOYchallenge and other activities like that can show kids and especially girls that, you know, engineering is different than they thought.

O'BRIEN: Through her organization, Sally Ride Science, she gives students, especially girls, opportunities to participate in camps, science festivals, and challenge events. This space legend hopes to make it just a little easier for today's girls to see their sky-high dreams like hers become a reality.

America's fascination with space has always come with a price. In 1967, a fire killed three astronauts on the launch pad during a test. But in 1986, the danger of space travel became a reality for a new generation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Challenger, go with throttle-up.

O'BRIEN: As people across the country watched live on television, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in the sky over Cape Canaveral shortly after liftoff. Seven crew members were lost that day, among them Grace Corrigan's 37-year-old daughter Christa McAuliffe, who had hoped to be the first teacher in space.

CHRISTA MCAULIFFE, ASTRONAUT: I don't think any teacher has ever been more ready.

GRACE CORRIGAN, CHRISTA MCAULIFFE'S MOTHER: I don't think it was that we didn't understand something very horrible had happened. I think it was a fact that we didn't want to.

O'BRIEN: Following the tragedy, McAuliffe's parents sought to keep her memory alive, working alive with Christa's alma mater, Framingham State College, the McAuliffe Center was established honoring Christa's commitment to education.

According the center, there are 40 schools named after McAuliffe worldwide. Her legacy of education is also thriving through many scholarships and fellowships in her name.

McAuliffe's children are grown now and her husband Scott remarried. Grace Corrigan lost her husband Edward in 1990, but she still works closely with the McAuliffe Center in memory of her daughter.

CORRIGAN: The reason I still do it is because I feel Christa saying, hey, come on, mom, I'm not there to do it. You know, do it for me. And I find it has been very rewarding and I'm very proud of her.

O'BRIEN: Another woman on a mission to space, astronaut Mae Jemison.

JEMISON: You know when you're growing up, you have lots of things you want to do. I always assumed I would go into space.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ignition, and liftoff.

O'BRIEN: On September 12th, 1992, at the age of 35, Dr. Mae Jemison boldly went where no African-American woman had gone before.

JEMISON: It was really after we got in orbit that I had a sensation that belonged anywhere in this universe.

O'BRIEN: Jemison makes it her life mission to explore the universe in every way she can. This high achiever is also a chemical engineer, Peace Corps veteran, physician, author, and teacher.

In 1994, Jemison started an international science camp for teens called The Earth We Share. These days Jemison is the founder and president of BioSentient Corporation where she is working on a device that provides mobile monitoring of people's nervous systems.

JEMISON: We think that there are real applications in the future for trying to identify certain diseases. It can also help people monitor how effective drugs are.

O'BRIEN: In addition to her work in the sciences, Jemison says she may one day explore the field of politics.


KING: The sky is still the limit for those American heroes, and I'm sure the next 25 years will bring more firsts in the U.S. space program.


ANNOUNCER: There's more to come on CNN's "Then & Now." The saga of the Long Island Lolita, Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuoco were fodder for a media feeding frenzy, but where are they now?

And a young surfer's fight to survive a shark attack and follow her dreams. Stay tuned.





KING: Welcome back to CNN's "Then & Now." We've been taking a look at the stories behind some of the biggest newsmakers of the past 25 years and what they're doing now. We've checked on survivors, patriots, and people who had a role in changing the world.

Some of the salacious stories of CNN's first 25 years were courtesy of the criminal justice system. Sometimes the burden of proof or the search for it made for great TV.

Jeffrey Toobin has more on some of the legal characters we remember most.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST (voice-over): In the 1980s, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker became pop icons as leaders of the hugely successful PTL Club TV ministry. The couple called their riches "a blessing from God." But people soon discovered the Bakkers' extravagant lifestyle was financed from the almighty contributions of the ministry's faithful.

Soon their tears of joy became tears of remorse. In 1987 Bakker 'fessed up to an adulterous relationship with a church secretary, Jessica Hahn, and later spent four years in prison for fraud.

Tammy Faye divorced her husband while he was in jail, and married his business partner, Roe Messner. In March of 2004, she announced on "LARRY KING LIVE" she had inoperable lung cancer.


TOOBIN: Eight months later, she appeared again with an update.

MESSNER: Every bit of the cancer is gone.

TOOBIN: But unfortunately, the cancer returned. Tammy Faye continues treatment, and doctors have given her a good prognosis. She has recently been a guest star on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and one day hopes to have her own show again.

Jim Bakker and his new wife, Lori Graham, run a TV program from Branson, Missouri.

JIM BAKKER, TELEVANGELIST: It's so good to get together with God's people.

TOOBIN: Jim and Lori are raising five adopted children between 8 and 16. They have had legal custody of them for four years, one big happy family, albeit a more modest one.

There was nothing modest about the details of a torrid New York sex scandal in the early '90s. Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuoco became household names, but for all of the wrong reasons. She was dubbed the "Long Island Lolita," the fodder of tabloids and the center of a media tempest.

Amy Fisher was just 16 years old when she shot the wife of her lover, Joey Buttafuoco, in 1992. She pleaded guilty and was sent to prison. Fisher was paroled in 1999 after serving seven years. To escape the stigma of being recognized as Amy Fisher, she had plastic surgery.

She turned down hundreds of offers to capitalize on her fame, even a cool million to pose in Playboy. In 2004, her best-selling autobiography was releases. "If I Knew Then" offers details of her affair with Buttafuoco and her time behind bars.

AMY FISHER, WRITER: I was even raped in prison. I put this in the book so other people out there, when they read it, not that they feel bad for me, but they get the message of do not do the things I did.

TOOBIN: Fisher met a man through an online dating service and became a wife and mother. She is now an award-winning columnist for the Long Island Press.

FISHER: I feel like I'm at a point in my own life where I'm happy, I'm stable, I have a great career.

TOOBIN: As for Buttafuoco, after 26 years of marriage, he and Mary Jo divorced and his legal troubles continued. Last year he was sentenced to a year in jail after pleading guilty to auto insurance fraud in Los Angeles.

But things are looking up for the former auto body shop owner. He has a small role in Ashanti's new music video "Still On It." Buttafuoco plays the manager of a seedy hotel.

Now to another infamous icon, "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss. Fleiss cornered the market on high-priced call girls, leading to a huge fortune and a heap of trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heidi, do you think you will give the names in the black book?

TOOBIN: In the 1990s, Heidi Fleiss was one of Hollywood's most notorious characters. The then 20-something daughter of a wealthy pediatrician used her family's connections to attract and service rich and famous clients as the "Hollywood Madam."

Her arrest and trial became headline news. But she never did reveal the contents of her black book, and was sentenced to three years in prison for procuring prostitution and selling cocaine.

FLEISS: I had the party, did the party, threw the party, was the party, I'm partied out. And I live every day to its fullest, and there are lessons that I've learned.

TOOBIN: When Fleiss was released from prison, she started capitalizing on her notoriety, legally. She started a line of clothing called Heidiwear, and has received approval to open a legal brothel in rural Nevada that will feature male prostitutes.

FLEISS: Would I want my daughter, that I don't have, to be a prostitute? No. But if it is going to be legal, make it legal for both men and women and make it a decent working place and a fun thing to do. TOOBIN: Fleiss wrote a book about her experiences called "Pandering." She also invested in her looks, undergoing plastic surgery. On another front, she faced off in court with former boyfriend and actor, Tom Sizemore, accusing him of abuse. He was convicted on one count, and acquitted of 10 others.

The "Hollywood Madam" turns 40 this year and would like to be remembered for one thing.

FLEISS: That I took the oldest profession on Earth and did it better than anyone on Earth. That's it and that's all. Alexander the Great conquered the world at 32, I did it at 22.

From the infamous mistress, to the famous witness, the O.J. Simpson trial made Kato Kaelin a name we'll never forget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Kato, how do you like...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are making money, Kato?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kato, are you relieved?

TOOBIN: America's most famous houseguest, Brian Kato Kaelin. He was living in O.J. Simpson's guest house when Simpson's wife Nicole and Ron Goldman were murdered. When he was called to the witness stand in the O.J. trial, the shaggy-haired aspiring actor made an impression.

KAELIN: I think what I learned from the trial is you've got to realize one thing with people, everybody has their own agenda and they all want something.

TOOBIN: After the trial, Kaelin had a short-lived radio show and continued his acting career, appearing on TV shows such "Talk Soup," and in B movies such as "BASEketball."

KAELIN: I fit into invisible Hollywood. People look at me like, hey, Kato did it, and heck, I can relate to that guy, he's everyman America.

TOOBIN: He now works for National Lampoon and is the host of a syndicated show called "An Eye for an Eye."

KAELIN: It's sort of like "Judge Judy" meets "Fear Factor."

TOOBIN: Kaelin is not married, but has a daughter from a previous relationship. Kaelin doesn't see or talk to O.J. Simpson anymore. And the guest house where Kato lived has been torn down.

KAELIN: I have my own place now, so unfortunately I live behind it.


KING: The trials and errors of the past 25 years made for fascinating TV. And I imagine that will continue.


ANNOUNCER: There's more to come on CNN's "Then & Now."

In God's care at Ground Zero, an unlikely escape from the collapsing World Trade Center.

LOUIE CACCHIOLI, 9/11 FIREFIGHTER: It was like a team effort, you know, and going down the stairs, you know, yelling, screaming, trying to keep control.

ANNOUNCER: And a pilot who pushed himself to the limit to survive behind enemy lines. You would be surprised to know what Scott O'Grady is doing now.



KING: The terrorist attacks of September 11th were a defining moment for CNN and the nation as a whole. It wasn't long after the enormity of the day was realized that heroes were found everywhere.

It was Paula Zahn's first day on the air at CNN, she looks back now at some of the faces of 9/11.


MICHAEL LOMONACO, EXECUTIVE CHEF, WINDOWS ON THE WORLD: Windows on the World was just about the largest restaurant operation in the country. So to be there early, you know, meant a lot. Any other day you would find me in my office by 8:30 in the morning.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the morning of September 11th, 2001, Windows on the World chef Michael Lomonaco made a snap decision, he decided to get his glasses fixed sooner rather than later. He had no idea that making a right instead of a left would probably save his life.

LOMONACO: Instead of going left into Tower No.1, I went right into the concourse level. And I walked in to the Lenscrafters shop.

LIN: This just in, you're looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center.

LOMONACO: And when I got out to the street and I saw the building burning, I immediately you know thought of all of my friends, my co-workers, my colleagues. We lost 79 members of our family.

ZAHN: After the attacks, Lomonaco helped found the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund to benefit family members of food service workers lost on 9/11.

LOMONACO: The fund eventually was very successful and had raised over $22 million, of which a half of the money went directly to benefit the families, and the remainder is now helping to pay health insurance and educational needs for over 125 families.

ZAHN: Today Lomonaco spends time teaching and is still cooking as host of "Epicurious," a food travel show on the Travel Channel. He has written two cookbooks and is also working on opening his own restaurant in New York City.

Lomonaco says he learned a lot from his experience on September 11th, and because of that, has come to terms with why he lived.

LOMONACO: Whatever spared me on that morning, I did learn and I've never forgotten and I will never forget that live is too precious to let moments go by.

ZAHN: For some 9/11 survivors, going on isn't that easy. Firefighter Louie Cacchioli retired after that day due to health reasons, but four years later, moving on is still a challenge.

CACCHIOLI: I thought I would get better and better but it seems to me I -- you know, every day like I'm back to that day.

ZAHN: And for good reason, he spent a lot of time that day stuck in an elevator in the North Tower. Cacchioli eventually led as many as 40 civilians down a stairwell. The South Tower had come down by the time he got out. Soon after, Tower 2 began to collapse.

CACCHIOLI: As soon as I started running, next thing I know, the big black ball of smoke gets me. And I'm looking behind me, I said, oh my God, I'm dead. And threw myself to the floor to keep myself low, and I'm getting hit in the head with the debris and stuff, and I couldn't see my hand in front of my eyes. It was like sawdust, I mean, heavy stuff. And I'm crawling, I'm crying, I'm thinking of my wife, my kids.

ZAHN: Cacchioli survived and became a familiar face in 2002 when he was featured on the cover of the Time-Life book, "Face of Ground Zero," a photograph collection of many rescue workers and survivors.

Since then, Cacchioli has participated in weekly survivors meetings for firefighters on 9/11. When he's not at the gym working out, he spends the rest of his time speaking with kids about families and spending time with his own.

CACCHIOLI: My granddaughter was born 2002. And she's almost 2 1/2 years old right now. I don't know what I ever would have done if I didn't have that little girl.

ZAHN: As for being called a hero for actions, Cacchioli is quick to dismiss it.

CACCHIOLI: Five fighters, police officers, emergency, we don't like that word, hero, that's our job, OK? That's my job. The heroes to me are the members that didn't survive on 9/11.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you.

ZAHN: Just three days after 9/11, he stood at the left hand of a president and squarely in the hearts of Americans.

BUSH: The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.

ZAHN: Retired firefighter Bob Beckwith arrived at Ground Zero on September 14th, determined to help in the search for survivors, and just happened to help the visiting President Bush get up on the burned remains of a fire truck.

BOB BECKWITH, RETIRED FIREFIGHTER: I started to get down, he said, where are you going? I said, I was told to get down. He said, no, no, you stay right here.

ZAHN: Beckwith became the symbol that helped rally a city and a nation. Since 9/11, he has become a kind of ambassador for firefighters, traveling the country and the world, making appearances and raising money for the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation.

BECKWITH: I just go and I tell them my story, how did I get to be with the president.

ZAHN: Beckwith lives on Long Island with his wife Barbara. He is a father of six and a grandfather of 10, and in his heart he will always be a fireman.

BECKWITH: A fireman is a fireman. You're in a family of great people.

ZAHN: You could say that family is what led Lauren Manning to be called a September 11th miracle. The Cantor Fitzgerald vice president was entering the World Trade Center when a fireball exploded down the elevator shaft, blowing her out the door, setting her on fire.

LAUREN MANNING, 9/11 SURVIVOR: As I was running, I was, you know, praying, probably screaming to God, please, you know, help me, help me, you know, I can't, I can't leave now, it's not my time to leave.

ZAHN: Manning was burned over 80 percent of her body and spent six weeks in a drug-induced coma. Her husband Greg was there through it all.

GREG MANNING: I was going to stand by her. I was going to be with her every step of the way. I was going to do everything I could to get her through it.

ZAHN: Lauren says she decided to live for her family.

L. MANNING: I have the most incredible love from my husband and my son. They have served as the ultimate energizers.

ZAHN: Her husband Greg's powerful daily e-mails about Lauren's battle for life are contained in the best-selling book "Love Greg and Lauren." Lauren has never read it.

L. MANNING: I'm living Greg's book, so when I'm ready to go back for a good review then I'm sure I will pick it up.

ZAHN: After dozens of surgeries, Lauren still has many more to go, and undergoes daily physical and occupational therapy, but like many other September 11th survivors, she now takes time to count her blessings.

L. MANNING: I feel privileged to have life, and I have sought to make the most of every moment I have.


KING: Conquering both physical and emotional pain to triumph over tragedy, we could never begin to report all of the incredible stories of September 11th.


ANNOUNCER: Still ahead on CNN's "Then & Now," against the odds.

PAT IRELAND, COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: From the time that I was shot to the time that I climbed out the window was about a three-hour period.

ANNOUNCER: The image of him during the terror at Columbine High School is unforgettable. Coming up next on CNN's "Then & Now," whatever happened to Columbine survivor Pat Ireland?

IRELAND: Good will always prevail, so my ultimate goal is just, you know, live a happy life.



KING: Many of the stories that CNN has covered over the years have been tragedies, disasters, and wars. But the tales of people beating the odds became the best news of all.

Kyra Phillips has more.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thirteen-year-old Bethany Hamilton was just out to catch a wave on a beautiful Hawaiian morning, and ended up catching the attention of a nation after she was attacked by a shark. On October 31st, 2003, Bethany lost 70 percent of her blood, her left, and maybe her dream to surf professionally one day.

But Bethany went on the surf again, without fear on a specially- made board.

BETHANY HAMILTON, SHARK ATTACK SURVIVOR: I'm there to have fun and not be scared because it's pretty rare for someone to get attacked twice. PHILLIPS: Only months after the shark attack, Bethany placed fifth in the National Scholastic Surfing Association championships, and secured a sport on the U.S. national team.

This past summer, she captured her first national title at the NSSA championships. Hamilton has written a book called "Soul Surfer," and a movie based on the book is being filmed now. She is writing a second book called "Devotions of a Soul Surfer" and says her biggest desire is to motivate others.

HAMILTON: Encourage people and let them know that like they can do whatever they want if they just set their heart to it and just never give up and just go out there and do it.

PHILLIPS: From the dangers of the deep to the dangers lurking deep underground, in July of 2002, nine coal miners spent three days trapped 240 feet underground in the Quecreek Mine near Somerset, Pennsylvania. Their rescue buoyed their community and a nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All nine are alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first miner has been pulled from the mine. His name is Randy Fogle.

RANDY FOGLE, RESCUED COAL MINER: That's just awesome, to know that you can see another sunrise or have another day with your family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Number two miner at 1:15 a.m., Harry Mayhugh.

HARRY BLAINE MAYHUGH, RESCUED COAL MINER: There still isn't a day that goes by that you don't think of what happened, what could have happened, just your outlook in life is a lot better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ninth and final miner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His name is Mark Popernack.

POPERNACK: When I first got out of the mine, I wouldn't even step on an ant that was walking on the sidewalk, because that was something that God created and that was life and I didn't want to take that away.

MAYHUGH: No, I haven't worked in the mines every since the incident.

FOGLE: I stayed out of the mines for six months after the accident, and then I went back to work, and that's what I've been doing ever since. So work underground the whole time.

POPERNACK: When Randy went back to the mines, I was going to go back also. And that night, my oldest son, Lucas, he had nightmares about it, and I just decided right then that I wasn't going to go back underground, because it affected my kids so much.

PHILLIPS: The rescue shaft dug to save the men can still be seen at the mine to this day, a testament to what the miners call a miracle.

MAYHUGH: There's a lot of technology and a lot of manpower with all the people working up there. But there had to be a higher power, I do believe.

POPERNACK: Life is precious, and we got a second chance at it and we won't forget it.

PHILLIPS: Columbine High School shooting survivor Pat Ireland also realizes how precious life is and will never forget how close he came to losing his. Millions of television viewers watched in anguish on April 20th, 1999, as Ireland, then a 17-year-old junior, dangled through a second floor window.

Ireland remembers very little of the incident and his escape.

IRELAND: When I first was shot in the library, I wasn't sure what happened. I tried to stand up a couple of times and realized I couldn't because one of the bullets had passed through the -- one side of my brain and paralyzed me in my right side. From the time that I was shot to the time that climbed out the window was about a three- hour period.

PHILLIPS: By the end of the day, 14 students, including shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and one teacher were dead, 23 others, including Ireland, were injured.

IRELAND: I had to re-learn how to walk and talk and read and write, basically start out over from a kindergarten or a grade school level.

PHILLIPS: But Ireland didn't give up.

IRELAND: I graduated valedictorian from Columbine. I had had a 4.0 through the shootings and then it had always been one of my goals to keep that up and graduate valedictorian. All my family and friends just -- they were constantly around me, constantly giving me support, being such competitor, not wanting to give up, not letting evil win in that situation. We had tons of outpouring from across the nation and the world, actually.

PHILLIPS: Ireland went on to graduate magna cum laude from Colorado State, and married his college sweetheart in August. He works as a financial planner.

IRELAND: The human spirit is good, that good will always prevail. So my ultimate goal is just, you know, live a happy life.

PHILLIPS: Elizabeth Smart was living a happy life when she became a little girl lost. In the summer of 2002, she was taken from her bedroom in suburban Salt Lake City during the night. Her parents anguish touched the nation.

ED SMART, ELIZABETH SMART'S FATHER: Please let her come home.

LOIS SMART, ELIZABETH SMART'S MOTHER: We need her and she needs us.

PHILLIPS: Thousands of people mobilized to look for the 14-year- old and what seemed like a hopeless search. Then nine months after being abducted, she was found.

E. SMART: It's real. It's real.

PHILLIPS: She had been taken and held by a man who once worked for the Smart family. Elizabeth is now an 18-year-old high school student and talks very little about her ordeal.

E. SMART: There may be an occasion where something comes up and we talk. But it is not something that she dwells on.

PHILLIPS: Elizabeth is a quiet activist for missing children and was present at the White House, signing the national Amber Alert bill. But she is really just a normal teenager who dates, drives, and spends time with friends.

E. SMART: Focusing on herself and in moving forward is a tremendous example for others.

PHILLIPS: Elizabeth has received honors and awards for her courage, and people still recognize her.

E. SMART: Essentially as the end came about, a girl that belonged to everyone, and that was how she was found.

PHILLIPS: Pilot Scott O'Grady also knows about being lost and found. His story took place in Bosnia in 1995.

O'GRADY: As soon as the missile hit, the only thing I saw was the cockpit disintegrating in front of me.

PHILLIPS: Captain O'Grady spent six long days struggling to survive after being shot down and then...

O'GRADY: My heart started racing, and then I heard "Basher One- One" up on the radio.

I just wanted to have a normal life and just continue on.

PHILLIPS: Little did O'Grady know those six days in Bosnia would change his life forever. He found himself in the spotlight, recounting story for millions of people. And continues to do so, even 10 years later, he has published two books, "Return with Honor," and "Basher Five-Two," a children's book about his experience.

After serving his country for 12 years, O'Grady is now pursuing a master's degree at Dallas' Theological Seminary.

O'GRADY: When I realized that maybe I might not come home alive, that it was my relationship with God that meant the most to me.

PHILLIPS: O'Grady says he's not sure what he will do after graduates, but he knows he wants to serve his community and his country.


KING: I'm sure the best stories are yet to come during CNN's next 25 years, and we'll be there to bring them to you. That's it for this final edition of CNN 25. To learn more about what the newsmakers of yesterday are doing today, check out our Web site at

Thanks again for joining us, and I'm Larry King.


© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines