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CNN SUNDAY MORNING
Insurgent Group Claims Responsibility for Killing U.S. Soldiers; Smoke Advisory in Florida
Aired May 13, 2007 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well good morning everybody, from the CNN Center in Atlanta. I'm Betty Nguyen on this Sunday, May 13th, which is...
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Mother's Day.
NGUYEN: Happy Mother's Day.
HOLMES: Hi mom, happy mother's day. I'm T.J. Holmes, so glad you could start your Mother's Day here with us. It is 9:00 a.m. here in the east, 5 p.m. in Iraq where we're following major developments in the massive hunt for three missing U.S. soldiers. An insurgent group that includes al Qaeda in Iraq is claiming responsibility and capture of those troops.
NGUYEN: We're going to take you live to Baghdad for that. And also, we are live in Florida where crews are battling two gigantic wildfires, we'll see it from the front lines.
HOLMES: Fists flying in an all-out brawl, when a man accused of killing a one-year-old makes his first appearance in court. We'll have more on that drama ahead on this CNN SUNDAY MORNING.
But first, we're following that breaking news in the search of three missing U.S. soldiers in Iraq. An al Qaeda-linked group claims it abducted the soldiers after attacking their patrol and killing four Americans and their Iraqi interpreter. CNN's Nic Robertson has details from Baghdad. Hello to you, Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello. Well that claim on an Internet Web site came on several Web sites that are used often by the Islamic state of Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq.
These are Web sites that have tended to prove reasonably reliable in the past, a number of Web sites claiming and this is the statement they put on their Web site, that their forces clash with the crusader forces, close to Mahmoudiya. They say in that statement, this led to the capture and kill of a number of them. And the Web site goes on to say they will update people when they have more information.
This claim does not say how many soldiers they killed, how many they captured, but this is the first claim of responsibility from the Islamic state of Iraq, that is al Qaeda in Iraq. This while an ongoing effort involving 4,000 U.S. soldiers on the ground, more Iraqi army soldiers also joining in that search. The search has been going on for more than 24 hours, just south of Baghdad, the area of Mahmoudiya. That search also involving aerial reconnaissance aircraft, intelligence assets, conversations with local leaders, indeed, U.S. military commanders saying they are using all national assets, assets that are not typically deployed in the theater of operations, at least involved in this way.
They are using all assets to ascertain as quickly as possible the exact whereabouts of the three missing soldiers.
HOLMES: Of course, Nic, that's the big story there. But also the violence continues in other parts of Iraq, a couple of car bombings to talk about. Update us on those.
ROBERTSON: Well the suicide bombing in the north of the country, the death toll there is climbing. The death toll -- this is a town between the cities of Irbil and Mosul in the north of the country. The death toll now we're told, 43 people killed, 115 wounded.
Doctors and officials say expect the toll of wounded to climb. A suicide bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives into a gas station that was right outside the offices of the local Kurdish party. Also close to the local mayor's office.
At that time, there were meetings going on of local leaders from the local community, from nearby towns. It's not clear exactly what the target was, but it has destroyed that part of the city, it has injured and killed members of the Kurdish party. It has injured and killed some of those local leaders that have come for the meeting.
And in the center of Baghdad, a car bomb targeting perhaps one of the only places a car bomb can get into in a crowded market area, killing 12, wounding 41 others and in that particular attack in the center of Baghdad, that's an area that officials have tried to stop car bombs getting into. They have made the markets which have been the subjects of many, many attacks, have made them pedestrian areas, cars can't get in.
But where the shoppers go to rendezvous with their rides back home, with their groceries, with their shopping, that's where the car bomb struck. It is a busy area, always congested with people.
HOLMES: Nic Robertson for us on all of the developments in Iraq and certainly in Baghdad as well. Nic, thank you very much.
NGUYEN: A major blow to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan that we want to tell you about. NATO confirms that a top Taliban leader has been killed. The Afghan government says that Mullah Dadullah was killed in southern Afghanistan's Helmand Province. Reporters who were shown the body say it is Dadullah. He was the commander in charge of the Taliban's day-to-day military operations. And an Afghan government spokesman says Dadullah's death will kill the morale of the others.
HOLMES: Back here in the states now. The Missouri River reaches its high-water mark. It crested six feet above flood stage, but still lower than predicted.
Missouri's governor says the biggest concern now is agricultural losses. He says the flood damage is not as bad as expected. Officials say levee breaks in western Missouri earlier this week allowed the river to spread out, so the water level was lower as it moved eastward.
NGUYEN: Well, let's move you to the southeast now and that growing wildfire along the Georgia/Florida border. A smoke advisory still in effect there. So just imagine this, OK, smoke and haze from the fire in northern Florida being seen as far away as Texas, even the Bahamas. CNN's John Zarrella is live now in Lake City, Florida. That's a long distance for smoke to travel, John.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sure is, Betty. But take a look. Yesterday when I was standing out here next to the fire trucks, you couldn't see me at all. So it has at least lifted here. That is great news.
The weather continues very good today for the efforts to fight the fires. The plan is to try and widen all of those areas, those trenches that they have been digging. And the perimeter around the fire that they have been building sets them back, fires widens those trenches so tomorrow after the rains, they think rain may come in today.
After the rains come in, these trenches will be wide enough that they can keep the fire from spreading. Now, what we're looking at here, of course, fire trucks that are all assembled waiting for their marching orders today, the guys out of Palm Beach County, St. Lucie County, they come from all over the state. A lot of what they are doing is structure protection. You're doing a lot of structure protection work?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, pretty much yesterday and the day before, the first day we were up here, we did structural triage, just checking for hazards around the different structures out in the forest area. And yesterday we stood by for spotovers in those residential areas.
ZARRELLA: So basically, you're just keeping an eye in case any embers come in, and you're helping people if they have debris and things that need to be cleared out to keep their structure from burning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly, that's what we did yesterday and the day before.
ZARRELLA: And you've been out, what about four or five days now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well we were originally, our strike team was originally out in the Brandon fires and we got called up Thursday evening to come out to this one.
ZARRELLA: And you get a break today, maybe?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. Yeah.
ZARRELLA: Thanks a lot.
So the idea of course is with all of these guys here, their responsibility -- we get this idea that maybe they we go in and fight the fires. No, the forestry teams are in there fighting the fires, using heavy bulldozers, clearing the land so that they can build the fire breaks.
What these guys are doing is literally structure protection, 75, 80 different fire trucks that are here, and the whole responsibility is that to make sure people's houses don't burn down, their businesses don't burn down. That's what they're doing.
But again, good weather, Betty. Expect it today before a front moves in, humidity may drop tomorrow, winds may pick up. That could be a problem, but right now, they have got this fire bottled up in a swamp and they want to keep it that way, Betty.
NGUYEN: Well the good weather today is really going to make a difference. John, we appreciate that. And we're going to turn to Bonnie now to figure out how long this good weather is going to be helping those folks who need it and we have it on both ends of the coast here, Bonnie.
HOLMES: In California now, we continue with the fire theme. Crews getting control of that wildfire on Catalina Island just off the coast there. The fire now 70 percent contained and may residents are back home. One home was destroyed in the fire, which burned more than 4,000 acres. More good news here and a good sign is that normal ferry service to the popular tourist island is set to resume on Monday.
NGUYEN: Well here is a medical question I think that you can answer. Can you be dead and still able to call 911?
HOLMES: I would guess no.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're dying.
DISPATCHERS: How much did you guys have?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, we made brownies, and I think we're dead. I really do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: What kind of brownies, do you think they made, huh?
HOLMES: Just chocolate, I'm sure. We're going to be talking about that and why that could cause an officer his badge. Stay tuned for that. But, first, we're going to be talking about this family feud really gets going in court. We'll show you more next and explain this right here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.
NGUYEN: Emotions running high in court over the death of a one- year-old Mississippi boy. Police struggle to restore order after a fight broke out. Now you can't see it on this tape but two members of the dead boy's family tried to attack the defendant. Zachariah Lacey faces capital murder and child abuse charges. He'd been babysitting the boy. Two people were arrested after that courtroom fight.
HOLMES: One of the FBI'S ten most wanted fugitives now in custody. Richard Steve Goldberg was picked up in Canada. The FBI says it was tipped off by someone who saw Goldberg's picture on the FBI Web site. He's wanted in California for allegedly having sexual contact with several girls under the age of 10. Also wanted for producing child pornography. He has been on the run since 2001. A Canadian judge could clear the way for extradition tomorrow.
NGUYEN: Well a landmark immigration vote in one Dallas, Texas, suburb. Voters in Farmers Branch approved a ban on landlords renting to illegal immigrants. This measure is the first in the country passed by a public vote. Sixty-eight percent of voters approved the measure. Landlords who rent to illegal immigrants now face a $500 fine. Opponents plan a lawsuit.
Well, you can call it a long, strange trip. Yes, a year old internal police investigation comes back to haunt a Dearborn, Michigan, police department.
HOLMES: Local media reports say a police officer who admitted confiscating marijuana and keeping it for himself was allowed to resign. Now, a city councilman demands to know with why he wasn't prosecuted instead.
NGUYEN: So why is this incident getting so much attention now? It probably has to do with a 911 call made more than a year ago from the officer's home. That call was recently made public. You have to take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I'm having an overdose and so is my wife.
DISPATCHER: OK, you and your wife?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
DISPATCHER: Overdose of what.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marijuana. I don't know if it had something in it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you please send rescue?
DISPATCHER: Do you guys have fever or anything?
SANCHEZ: No, I'm just - I think we're dying.
DISPATCHER: OK, how much did you guys have?
SANCHEZ: Uh, I don't know. We made brownies and I think we're dead. I really do.
DISPATCHER: OK, how much did you put in the brownies?
SANCHEZ: I don't know.
DISPATCHER: Was it a bag? Who made the brownies?
SANCHEZ: My wife and I did. Cuba, come here?
DISPATCHER: OK, get her.
SANCHEZ: She's on the living room ground right now.
DISPATCHER: Is she breathing?
SANCHEZ: She's barely breathing.
DISPATCHER: Is she awake?
SANCHEZ: I think so, yes.
DISPATCHER: Can you look?
DISPATCHER: Can you look?
SANCHEZ: Yes, I can feel her. She's laying right down in front of me. Time is going by really, really, really, really slow. What's the score on the Red Wings game?
SANCHEZ: What's the score on the Red Wings game?
DISPATCHER: I've got no clue. I don't watch the Red Wings.
SANCHEZ: OK, I just wanted to make sure this isn't some type of hallucination I'm having.
DISPATCHER: Why? What does the score say?
SANCHEZ: Three to three.
(END VIDEO CLIP) NGUYEN: I would say that's a bit of a hallucination, just a wild guess here, buddy. What's the score of the Red Wings game?
HOLMES: We love our sports. No matter what's going on, we want to know the update on the game.
NGUYEN: Apparently no matter what's going on because this guy thought he was dying.
HOLMES: My wife is dead on the floor, but what's the score of the game?
NGUYEN: Can you tell me, and we ate some brownies.
HOLMES: Now you see what we're talking about, why that's getting so much attention. All right, well turn to right now mothers who make.
NGUYEN: Real brownies, the good kind.
HOLMES: Real good brownies, the proper brownies. Well of course, usually it's filled with flowers, cards, and special dinners for family members, as we know.
NGUYEN: But it can be a difficult time for those adult children who have lost their moms and dads. And coming up in 20 minutes, I'm going to speak with the author of a new book about how you can move on and learn from that pain.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And finding love online. Mail order brides coming from Asia. It's all part of our "Uncovering America" series. I will have that next when CNN SUNDAY MORNING returns.
NGUYEN: Well the concept dates back to the 18th century when finding a wife could be flipping through, say, the pages of a catalog. But today, mail order brides can be found online and a large number of them come from the Philippines. It's part of our "Uncovering America" series. And Veronica de la Cruz joins us now with more of what you found, you said it's a simple thing of typing a Google search and there you found it.
DE LA CRUZ: Well yes, and I'm going to get that in a second. But one of the other reasons I'm doing this story is because a few months ago, I was speaking with the consul general of the Philippines here in Atlanta, and he told me that the issue of mail order brides is a really big one.
He said that he felt that the number of women showing up on the consulate doorsteps was growing. They come here not knowing anyone, they have trouble assimilating in some cases they ends up isolated, abandoned, or even abused. So in my report, we'll take a look at a couple who runs one of these Web sites from the comforts of their own home, a woman who is trying to stop them, and another who has come here from the Philippines looking for love and perhaps the American dream. Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED WAHL, OWNER, HEARTSOFASIA.COM: Over the last 11 years, over 50,000 women have joined our service. So roughly about 5,000 a year.
ANNALISA REYES, USC PROFESSOR: The number one export of the Philippines used to be rice or abaca or coconuts and now the number one export is literally the labor of its women.
JURI SCHMIDT, MARRIED AN AMERICA: He really promised me to give a good life. He said come to America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DE LA CRUZ: So what happens when Juri chases her dream here to America? I'll tell you whether or not she does find love or happiness. My special report on mail order brides airs next weekend right here in the NEWSROOM.
And like you were just saying Betty, I was interested in finding out what would happen if I Googled the word Filipina, three million hits came up and all of the top searches, all dedicated to these mail order brides.
NGUYEN: Why do you think it's in the Philippines?
DE LA CRUZ: It's all over Asia: Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Eastern Europe. A lot of women come from the Philippines, and really it's because they learn English in school, so it's easier for American men to communicate with these women and a large number of them are coming from the Philippines.
NGUYEN: Wow, that's interesting. All right, thank you.
Well May is Asian-Pacific-American heritage month. So you want to stay tuned to CNN this week for our special report on "Uncovering America." We'll take an in-depth look of what it means to be an Asian-American today.
HOLMES: Well, NATO is backing off the Afghan's government claim that a top Taliban commander has been killed, but will it make a difference in the peace of Afghanistan? We're going to be talking to a journalist who is there. That's next.
NGUYEN: Plus it can be a surreal scene on patrol in Iraq. Children following U.S. troops through the streets. Find out why it's often a good sign for American soldiers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The soldiers will tell you in some ways it's reassuring. Often if the kids disappear, it can mean something bad is going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP) GERRI WILLIS, CNN ANCHOR: You see them promoted all the time, low mortgage rates. Most of the time, they're the very best rates available to the very best customers, folks with tip-top credit scores. To find out what's more realistic, head on over to myfico.com. For 15 bucks, you can get your credit score. Then use their tool to find out the rate you should expect to pay in your area. Armed with the answers, shop around and negotiate. That's your tip of the day. For more, watch "OPEN HOUSE" every Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
NGUYEN: Abortion and religion, could they end up being the key roadblocks for two GOP presidential hopefuls? Well that story is coming your way in 30 minutes. Right now, we do want to welcome you back on this Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms out there, including my own. I'm Betty Nguyen.
HOLMES: Mine as well, happy Mother's Day. I'm T.J. Holmes. First up this half hour, we want to talk about the Taliban leader killed in Afghanistan. NATO confirms the death of military commander Mullah Dadullah. Officials calling it a serious blow to Taliban fighters.
Joining us now on the phone from Kabul to talk about that and more is journalist Tom Coghlan. Tom, good to talk to you again here. A lot of people don't know his name. Most people do not. Help us understand how big of a deal he is.
TOM COGHLAN, JOURNALIST (on phone): Well, Mullah Dadullah is - if I can compare him to another figure, he's the Afghan version of the Iraqi leader al-Zarqawi, who you will remember was killed last year.
Now Mullah Dadullah was the most ruthless, the most high profile, the most effective Taliban commander in the field fighting in southern Afghanistan. And his name was enough to strike fear into the Afghan forces, fighting down there, and to -- he was a very, very serious player indeed.
In fact, it's fair to say that he's the biggest Taliban figure to die since 2001, when the U.S.-led invasion occurred.
HOLMES: Wow. Certainly appreciate you putting that in perspective for us. And certainly folks can relate to Iraq and al Zarqawi and to put him that category in Afghanistan certainly helps folks understand. So, if he was that big of a deal, how big of a blow is it to the fighting, the violence that continue in Afghanistan? Also please, give folks another reality check, if you will, because Iraq is in the news so much, and covered so much about what's happening there, give us a reality check on just how things are right now in Afghanistan.
COGHLAN: Well, in terms of the blow that the Taliban has suffered here, primarily, it's a psychological blow. Dadullah was very, very competent and indeed, you have to give him credit, he was a brave commander of Taliban forces there in the south of Afghanistan. But, the Taliban is a loosely structured organization, a guerrilla army. It doesn't rely overly on a single commanding force within it. It's to -- the power structures are too devolved for that.
So, in terms of the military prowess for the Taliban, this probably wouldn't have a huge long-term effect. But psychologically, it's a very big blow for them. Dadullah was -- you know, when I compared him to al Zarqawi earlier, it was because Dadullah shared many of the characteristics of Zarqawi. He was a ruthless man, he was frequently involved in the most horrendous of activities, the beheading of prisoners, often those beheadings were videoed, put out for public circulation in southern (ph) Afghanistan. That's why he had such a fearsome reputation. He clearly loved the spotlight and he loved to promote his own media profile. He was always giving interviews to the television channels, radio, that sort of thing.
Now, in terms of the overall situation in southern Afghanistan, it's a pretty bleak situation, it was a pretty bleak situation there last year, very high levels of violence, NATO forces really struggling to contain a resurge in Taliban, a Taliban that felt it was having a chance to win this thing.
Now, over the winter months, we've seen NATO onto the front foot, NATO really pushing the Taliban at a time when they usually restore their organization and have a bit of a rest. And we haven't seen the levels of activity from the Taliban in these first spring months of the new year that some people were expecting. So, perhaps NATO is slightly gaining the upper hand at this time.
HOLMES: Tom Coghlan, journalist for us who has updated us frequently from Kabul. Tom, thank you so much, as always.
NGUYEN: Well, we do want to update you on breaking news out of Iraq involving those three missing U.S. soldiers. An insurgent group that includes al Qaeda is claiming responsibility for abducting soldiers after attacking their patrol. The Islamic State of Iraq posted an online statement saying it also killed a number of Americans during that attack. It happened yesterday in Mahmoudiya, which is south of Baghdad.
Now, CNN cannot verify the statement, but the military says four U.S. troops and their Iraqi interpreter were killed during an ambush in Mahmoudiya and the U.S. has launched a massive air and ground search for missing troops.
Also in Iraq, the death toll is climbing in a suicide bombing in the northern part of the country. Iraqi officials say 43 people were killed, at least 115 wounded when a suicide truck bomber detonated at the offices of the Kurdish political party. Now, an Iraqi official says the powerful car bomb in central Baghdad killed at least a dozen people there and wounded more than 40 others.
HOLMES: Looking out for snipers or being followed by children. A bizarre scene from the war in Iraq. CNN's Michael Holmes takes a look in this portion of our special report, "Month of Mayhem."
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It can be a bizarre site, troops cautiously running through the street, sometimes using smoke to hide from potential snipers, and all the time followed by laughing kids.
We sometimes call ourselves the pied piper, because wherever we can go with the soldiers, or whatever, there are 20 kids behind us. And it can be an amazing site where the soldiers, quite rightfully, are very aware and very alert and there's this sort of military maneuvering going on, meanwhile, behind you there's 20 kids laughing, saying "what's your name, mister?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you, I love you!
M. HOLMES (on camera): It's quite a bizarre reality when you're doing that. You know, you're looking for snipers and telling kids to keep it down.
(voice-over): Soldiers will tell you in some ways it's reassuring. Often if the kids disappear, it can mean something bad is going to happen. Word gets out, streets empty, and something blows up.
(on camera): It's a great Arab tradition that you show hospitality to guests, we just come in here with a dozen soldiers, people going house to house asking questions and they make you chai. Everyone gets a cup of tea if they want one, it's traditional Arab hospitality.
The incredible hospitality and generosity that people display to us. You know, we're going in with the soldiers sometimes doing searches and looking for weapons and stuff like that, and many times, they people invite you in to sit down on the sofa, bringing you cups of tea, because that's the Arab thing. If you have a guest in your house, you must give them something, you know?
So they come out with the glasses of Pepsi and glasses of tea and cookies for these guys who have just basically invaded their property. But that -- that's the Arab way. It's a hospitality thing, and you know, it's an extraordinary thing. I wonder how most Westerners would react if 12 soldiers came into their house, made themselves at home. You know, I dare say, probably most Westerners wouldn't be offering cups of tea.
HOLMES: Well, the rest of Michael Holmes "Month of Mayhem" airs tonight at 8:00 eastern and then later, Rick Sanchez takes a look at the meaning of success in Iraq. What it is, what does it -- why does it appear to keep changing? Those are things he's going to get into, tonight at 10:00 Eastern.
NGUYEN: Middle East diplomacy is taking place on two fronts. Vice President Dick Cheney visits Jordan and then Egypt today as part of a Middle East tour focusing on helping Iraq and curbing Iran rising influence. Yesterday, the vice president was in the United Arab Emirates to increase support for U.S. policies there.
Well, the soldier's abduction and U.S. troops in Iraq, those are the subjects today for CNN's LATE EDITION with Wolf Blitzer. Senators Barbara Boxer and Lindsey Graham are among Wolf's guests, that begins at 11:00 Eastern.
And I want to tell you about this, because Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaves for Russia today. She plans talks in Moscow with week with Russian officials on a wide range of topics, including Democratic reforms, missile defense, and human rights.
HOLMES: Tension remains high in Karachi, Pakistan following yesterday's street battle. One person was killed today, more than 30 killed yesterday. Supporters of President Pervez Musharraf have been fighting with opposition groups. Many anti government protesters were trying to reach Karachi's airport. A deposed chief justice arrived there for a rally that ended up being canceled. Anti-government protesters have taken up the cause of that judge. President Musharraf removed him from his post two months ago over allegations of misuse of power.
A sea of red. Turkish flags seen today in the city of Izmir, hundreds of thousands of people showing support for the separation of state and religion. The demonstrations accuse the ruling party of trying to move the government from a secular to Islamist base.
NGUYEN: Well, it is Mother's Day, and we're all celebrating. Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there. But, imagine this, a Mother's Day without your mom. Coming up next, I'm going to talk with the author of a new book about how to keeping your mother's memory alive, today.
HOLMES: And at the top of the hour, America's obsession with pop culture. Is Betty and me, are we to blame?
HOLMES: Yes. Me and Betty, specifically.
NGUYEN: Is it our fault?
HOLMES: Not specifically, no.
NGUYEN: No. Don't send your e-mails to us.
HOLMES: Is the media really going too far in the coverage of some of these troubled stars? Just two there. Stay tuned, we're going to get into that.
NGUYEN: Take a look at these pictures now, a Mother's Day tribute is underway right now in the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington. The annual ceremony honors mothers who served in Vietnam and other wars. We also want to show you some video that's come in a little bit earlier, today. Girl Scouts actually presented handmade cards and roses to the mothers on this Mother's Day as a tribute and way of remembering their children who have been lost in the different wars, including Vietnam. It is a very special day for them. One that is often bittersweet.
And speaking of this being a bittersweet day, a lot of you may be planning your day around a Mother's Day brunch or a phone call to your mom. Well, you are lucky, because our next guest faces another Mother's Day without a mom to call. Allison Gilbert is the author of "Always too Soon: Voices of Support for those Who have Lost both Parents." And I spoke with her this week in Los Angeles.
NGUYEN: First of all, if you could share with us how you lost your parents?
ALLISON GILBERT, AUTHOR: My mom died when I was just 25, you know, before I was even married and she had ovarian cancer and just, you know, five years later, almost like whiplash, my father is diagnosed with lung cancer. Hadn't smoked in 20 years and really succumbs very quickly and so within five years, you know, boom, boom, both my parents are gone.
NGUYEN: That is devastating. I can relate, in a way, the fact that I've lost my father, not both my parents, but my father. And that was an incredible loss for me. I went thought a lot of depression, it took me a whole -- several years just to get through those holidays where I just wouldn't break down in tears. How do you get through?
GILBERT: You know, it's a really good question you ask. At first, of course, initially it is very painful, just like what you said. And you want to crawl under the covers and hide and cry and all of that is normal, and to be expected -- I think what you do in the years that follow is that you do tend to sense this great fortitude and you do get stronger and you become empowered and you decide, well, I can either shrink away and hide or I can do something with this grief and move on. And a lot of people who I interviewed for the book chose to move on and in a way that was much better for them. They choose different things in their lives; they reordered their priorities and really went into a different place.
NGUYEN: I think you are exactly right. Because, like I told you, it took me a long time to get over it, but when I did, it was a matter of you're either going to step out of this or this is going to take your life over and it ruins your life. So, you just have to make that decision and when you do, it's almost like you're liberated to an extent because you do have the experience. So, when people are look at Mother's Day and they're trying to deal with it, because you lose people at different times, how do you suggest they get over that hump?
GILBERT: You know, I think if it's raw, if it's very new, you have to accept that it's normal to feel a lot of pain, especially on Mother's Day where there's constant reminders of living, breathing mothers around. There's Mother's Day cards, Mother's Day commercials. I mean this is a hard reminder, it's in your face everywhere you look. So if it's new, allow yourself, it's OK to be sad. Of course it's OK. If it's years later, perhaps use it as an opportunity to keep your mother's memory alive, especially if now you yourself have children.
NGUYEN: Well, you yourself have children, so the question is how do you keep their grandmother alive, your mother alive in their eyes?
GILBERT: You know, I think it's important to show photographs, and I don't mean the trite, you know, any photograph will do or a portrait, a boring portrait on the wall. I mean specific photographs. For example, what I love to do, if you have a photograph of your mom, let's say at past Mother's Day celebrations or at a brunch or something that was festive. Take out that old photograph and show that to your children. That shows your mom being happy, it shows her in an environment that she was thrilled to be in. It actually can bring back other memories, colors, textures, aromas, it can bring back colors and flavors and add to the story that perhaps a normal everyday, you know, black and white very staid photograph can't. So I think that's very important to do.
NGUYEN: I know that you spoke with a lot of celebrities who have lost both their parent. Any stories that really stuck out in you mind, that really touched your heart?
GILBERT: You know, there is this one amazing quote that Dennis Franz gave me. I don't know if you remember him from ABC's "NYPD Blue" he played Detective Andy Sipowicz, he was real tough guy, a real tough character on TV. And lost both of his parents really back to back, he described it as being in a tennis match, going from one hospital bed to the other, it was really devastating for him. And what he said to me in our interview I thought was so striking at the time, really somewhat surprising, he goes, "I'm so glad that I miss my parents. he lost his parents very closely. What he said was I'm so glad that I miss my parents." And I actually stopped him. I said what do you mean you're glad? Come on, give me a break, what do you mean are you glad you miss your parent? And he said, "if I didn't it would mean that they didn't have as much of an impact on my life as they do."
NGUYEN: It's true.
GILBERT: I love that. That actually means that he keeps them present, he's able to pass on their memory, their values to his own children. I think that's the real measure of success.
NGUYEN: I want to read you another quote from the book. This one from Mariel Hemingway, and she says, "Even though I lost my parents young and that was difficult, II know that they gave me what I needed for my lifetime. Everything they taught me, good and bad, was something I could use for my well being."
Now, that's one of your favorites, tell us why.
GILBERT: Yeah, you know, Mariel Hemingway just is a fantastic woman. You know, actress turned author, and I think why that quote is so special to me is that sometimes you get caught up in feeling so sad that your parents aren't here to witness milestones in your life to be there, to kind of be there to ask for advice to be there give you guidance and support, but what she reminded me and reminds everyone who reads "Always too Soon." That you know what? If you have any length of time, remember what they did, remember what they said, remember their actions, and that is the guiding force that can inform your choices now that they are gone. It's such an important thing to have said. Because it keeps their being alive within you, even if they're gone.
NGUYEN: Let me ask you this. What are you doing on Mother's Day?
GILBERT: I'm so excited that it's Mother's Day. I am going to spend the day with my two children. My son Jake is seven and my daughter Lexi is almost turning five. So they'll be with me, of course, my husband and my husband's family. So, it's a day of celebration, and of course, I will reflect upon my mom and tell my children stories about her too. Because, of course, that's important to do for myself and of course for my kids.
NGUYEN: Well, we wish you a very happy Mother's Day.
GILBERT: Thank you.
NGUYEN: Thanks for spending a little time with us today. We appreciate it.
GILBERT: My pleasure. Thank you.
NGUYEN: So, cherish your moms and for those whose moms aren't around, keep the memory alive.
HOLMES: Absolutely, cherish them while we have them. We won't always have them.
NGUYEN: Don't want to think about that day.
HOLMES: Some folks don't. We're lucky to have them.
NGUYEN: Yep, that is so true. Well, we want to tell you about this he will not take a hard stance against abortion rights and he has been known to occasionally dress in drag. Can Rudy Giuliani survive conservative critics in his bid for the GOP presidential nomination? Well, RELIABLE SOURCES goes in searches of the answers in 10 minutes.
HOLMES: Also, what's wrong with this picture? Details on this little guy's quest.
NGUYEN: Is that at desert? Where is he?
HOLMES: To find his real home. It does look like the beach. We'll talk about that. But first, we're share some Mother's Day photo with you. These are some of the folks here around the CNN staff. On CNN SUNDAY MORNING sharing photos and memories with their mommies. Oh. NGUYEN: Happy Mother's Day, everybody.
HOLMES: We'll be right back.
HOLMES: The Blue Angels get their wings back. Yesterday was their first show since one of their pilots was killed in a crash in a South Carolina air show last month. The Blue Angels typically fly six days a week, but stay onto ground nine days after the crash, the show in North Carolina went off without any issues. Meanwhile, the cause of the deadly crash still under investigation.
NGUYEN: Now it's time to check in with Howard Kurtz in Washington, to see what is ahead on RELIABLE SOURCES.
HOWARD KURTZ, RELIABLE SOURCES: Hi Betty. Coming up, the press turns on Rudy Giuliani and his support of abortion rights. Why the sudden obsession with the issue when he hasn't changed his basic position?
Mitt Romney gets the Mike Wallace treatment and the "60 Minutes" interrogator asks about premarital sex?
Plus that video of a very drunk David of Hasselhoff. How many times do we need to see it, and why does television keep wallowing in such celebrity trash?
All that and the political obituaries for Tony Blair, ahead on RELIABLE SOURCES.
NGUYEN: All right, thank you, Howard. We appreciate it, we'll be watching.
HOLMES: Trash. Trash is what he said.
All right, we're going to tell you now about one little penguin that got just a little bit off course. All right, let's see this little guy here. He's wandering on a beach in Peru. If you think he shouldn't be in Peru, would you be right, because that's about 3,000 miles away from where he's supposed to be.
NGUYEN: Yikes, how did he get there? OK well, here's what we know. Luckily, he's actually a warm weather penguin.
HOLMES: You have been eating brownies this morning?
NGUYEN: No, not those. But not really that warm, though, because this injured wing has hampered his navigation and now there are other penguins there in Peru, but handlers there don't think they'll accept this little guy because they're working on getting him back home and may have to wait until he's well enough to fly, on a plane that is. Poor little guy, he's lost. On Mother's Day. Where is his mama when he needs her? HOLMES: Where is mom? Well, I'm sure he sent a card. Well, I love you, mom. Just getting up today. Hope somebody made you that coffee, maybe get you some fresh squeezed orange juice and it's going well for you this morning.
NGUYEN: And for our moms, I hope are you ready for your Mother's Day close-ups because that is straight ahead.
But first, some special ladies that are so important in our team in the newsroom. CNN SUNDAY MORNING continues in just a moment.
NGUYEN: Well we have been showing you the ladies who mean so much to our morning team at CNN and that's our producer's mother as a young girl with her twin sister and her own mother. We don't know which twin is which, and neither does her daughter. But we have some more photos to show of our mothers on this Mother's Day. In fact, I can't even get a hold of my mom on the phone, but there she is, there's my mom.
HOLMES: You do that flower thing.
NGUYEN: Well, we were in Hawaii, she doesn't walk around with a flower in her hair every day, folks.
DE LA CRUZ: It's my mom, Momma de la Cruz. This is us a couple of Christmases ago in Toronto. Happy Mother's Day, mom. I love you. She's going to kill me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this is my mom in Florida. In January, we celebrated her birthday party, that's where that picture was taken. Happy Mother's Day, mom.
HOLMES: And this is the only one my mom could find on short notice, but that's my mom in the middle. We're at the...
NGUYEN: The little T.J.
HOLMES: We're at the space center.
NGUYEN: Why are you sticking out your tongue, T.J..
HOLMES: It's what I do, Betty. And that's my sister who wanted to be cropped out of the picture. Sorry, Tish.
NGUYEN: Just your brother, right? Happy Mother's Day, moms, and all of the other moms out there hope have you a wonderful day. You deserve it, especially putting up with all of us and all of the little ones that you have at home.
HOLMES: Well, we do need to tell you a couple of more things before we get out of here. The power of pop culture, we got RELIABLE SOURCES coming up at next, he's going to be tiling about why are the personal troubles of stars such as Paris Hilton, David Hasselhoff, grabbing so many headlines? NGUYEN: And then at 11:00, Wolf Blitzer and LATE EDITION, among Wolf's guests Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, but first a check of the morning's top developments.
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