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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Risk of Severe Storms in the Midwest; Memorial Day Weekend

Aired May 25, 2008 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He asked me to be his valentine for ever and ever when we were engaged and I said, "I'll be your valentine for ever and ever and even when we're together in heaven, we'll be together."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: As America honors its fallen troops, a wife's loving tribute to her husband in a special place where everyday is a Memorial Day.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: And from the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes.

DE LA CRUZ: And I'm Veronica de la Cruz, good morning, it's nice to see you. I'm in for Betty Nguyen, today. It is Sunday May 25, let's go ahead and get you up to speed, now.

HOLMES: Yes, and we're going to start with weather and the risk of severe storms in the Midwest, again today. We have already seen tornadoes there over the last three days.

DE LA CRUZ: That's right, an incredible 124 reports of tornadoes so far west of the Mississippi. Here's what it looked like yesterday in Oklahoma. Take a look. Several tornadoes touched down northwest of Oklahoma City, major towns were spared. Emergency officials there say one person was briefly trapped in the rubble of a badly damaged home. You can also see in some of the video a pig farm that was blown apart. We don't have that up, hopefully will. This is the twister that gets up to that video.

HOLMES: Yeah, more storm video here and again amazing stuff, here, a lot of it taken from local news helicopter. Our Tony Harris had a chance to talk with the chopper pilot about the dangerous game of chicken, if you will, even though we're talking pigs in that particular video, there. This is the pig farm we're seeing here. Just amazing to see it torn apart like that. This is not video, I don't want to say, we're lucky enough to see this, but you don't get the shots of a tornado often times, but here we are watching a slow- moving tornado that literally tore apart a pig farm, there. And again, our Tony Harris talked to that helicopter pilot who was actually piloting this helicopter that got this great video. We talked about the game of chicken that he had to play with this tornado. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MASON DUNN, NEWS CHOPPER PILOT: Basically those tornadoes, I was about two miles away from. You'll notice the helicopter turning a lot.

TONY HARRIS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah.

DUNN: It starts kind of, you know, sucking you in so to speak, and so you have to, you know, keep flying away from it while you're trying to, you know...

HARRIS: So you can actually, at times, feel it pulling you in.

DUNN: Oh, yeah. That's common.

HARRIS: Whoa.

DUNN: You know, it's a common deal. But we have a job to do and we know where to be and where not to be and, you know, our focus is to film the tornadoes that you're seeing and we can tell exactly which way they're moving and try to warn -- you know, advise the people ahead of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Some risky stuff, there. Again, Mason Dunn of our affiliate, KWTV, who shot all of that video talking to our Tony Harris, yesterday. Again, back to that pig farm, now, we've seen it torn apart a couple times. Show you what it looked like after it. At least three of the barns were produced to ribbons of tangled sheet metal and broken board, that you see there. No one, and would you believe even pigs, seriously hurt, here, but certainly rattled a bit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GILBERT POPPAWELL, SURVIVED TORNADO: The rain just started pouring like crazy and we turned and looked to our left over and that's when we seen the tornado forming. All the kind of debris being thrown around, we heard glass breaking, the doors were rattling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, there were no deaths reported from yesterday's storms in Oklahoma.

DE LA CRUZ: But there is a possibility of more severe weather in the forecast, today. Let's go ahead and check in now with CNN meteorologist, Reynolds Wolf, he is keeping track of all of that severe weather.

What are you seeing, Reynolds?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Basically there's the same possibility of seeing more of that today in some of the same places, back in Oklahoma, maybe in Texas, in parts of the Midwest, maybe even the western half of Great Lakes. What's interesting about so many of these tornadoes and one thing you will notice if you watch these enough, they will assume the color of whatever they pick up. For example, if they happen to be over a freshly plowed field that has red clay, sometimes they will have a reddish hue to them, over a hay field they can become yellowish. The tornado, yesterday, if it had picked up some of those pigs, it would be a pork flavored tornado. No pun intended. Seriously, it picks up whatever it gets. Over water it becomes almost like a water spout.

And that may be the situation in place like Oklahoma, today. In fact we've got a live camera, right now, in Oklahoma City that shows the skies still cloudy, still look pretty interesting there, today. So, people in Oklahoma know very well that when you have this type of activity, this type of year, you really, really have to watch out. And it has been a very active year.

Right now it's active in parts of the Midwest. Let's go back to the weather computer and zoom into a few lotions. Right now in Kansas we're seeing some development right along parts of I-35, near Pomona and Bangier Owit (ph). Not a lot of activity yet, but of this is all going to be moving eastward.

As we head back over towards St. Louis, points northward, go to St. Charles, then back up to Winchester, we're seeing some activity, there. Some of these aren't severe yet but, they still could give us some deadly lightning and some large hail, some damaging winds. Got to watch out for that. And today, as I mentioned, from the central plains to the Midwest, the western half of the Great Lakes, you've got that slight risk of storms for today, for tomorrow, as well. That's a look at your forecast. We're going to be talking more about this and showing more of that amazing video throughout much of the day. Back to you.

DE LA CRUZ: All right. Thanks, Reynolds.

HOLMES: Thank you, Reynolds. And while the earth shook again in China's Sichuan Province. A powerful aftershock, this one measured 5.8 magnitude, it actually killed at least one person, another 400 were hurt. This aftershock was felt in Chengdu, which is about 150 miles from the epicenter.

Well meantime, the death toll from that earthquake nearly two weeks ago keeps climbing. Officials now have the official death toll at 62,664 people, almost another 24,000 still missing. As Hugh Riminton how reports, some quake survivors in small towns are feeling left out of the recovery efforts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUGH RIMINTON, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): China's premiere says in three months earthquake survivors will be living at normal, but that doesn't cut much ice in this village of Yung Jal Yung (ph). In his life Wei Ran Kui has seen war and revolution, but nothing like this.

"What worries us is our life," he says. "We don't have enough food. This is a disaster." They are living, he says, just on what they've picked from the ruins.

DON SHUN RONG, VILLAGER (through translator): My daughter is hungry, she cries for food, but we have nothing to eat. The adults are eating less to give more to the children.

RIMINGTON: Her 4-year-old has become sick and there is no medicine to be had.

RONG (through translator): We are all really worried.

RIMINTON: Not one house here is safe to live in. Anything not already destroyed looks ready to fall. Yet, the aid trucks that find their way along this mountain road drive straight on through. This doesn't count as a priority town.

"Our village death toll is not as high as other places," says Lee Dong (ph), "but the other damage is just the same." There are no neat rows of donated tents, here. All the villages now crowd into makeshift shelters of bamboo matting and cardboard.

JIN XIN EN, VILLAGER: We need waterproof cloth. Right now even light drizzle gets through. The lack of food and tents really has us worried.

RIMINTON: Wei Ran Kui was sleeping when the quake hit.

"I was so scared I didn't know what was going on," he said. "I heard this sound." The roof caved in beside him. The front of the house is gone.

(on camera): It says much about the scale of this disaster that destruction like this simply doesn't merit any priority with the authorities at this time. The 500-odd people in this village, though, are indicative of the enormity of the problem that faces Chinese authorities across a huge swath of the country. They must deal not only with those in acute need, but those who will need help for years to come.

(voice over): Wei Ran Kui claims his family history in this town dates back more than 700 years. At 70 years old, he's starting again now, from scratch.

Hugh Riminton, Yung Jal Yung (ph), China.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DE LA CRUZ: In Myanmar today, representatives from more than 50 countries promise to send tens of millions of dollars to help the cyclone survivors. U.N. secretary, General Ban Ki-Moon says he's hopeful the crisis in the country, also known as Burma, has reached a turning point. The U.S. has already given Myanmar more than $20 million for cyclone relief. U.S. officials say that's all that they will send until Myanmar's military government let's international experts travel to the most devastated areas.

And police in South Africa say the death toll from two weeks of anti-immigrant violence has reached at least 50. Thousands of foreigners are living in makeshift camps after being chased from their homes. They were attacked by mobs who accused them of taking jobs and housing. Earlier this week, South Africa's president called in the army for the first time since the end of apartheid. South Africans protesting the violence marched through the streets of Johannesburg, yesterday.

HOLMES: Well, they are still fighting the flames in California. Crews struggling to control a wildfire there that has destroyed several homes.

DE LA CRUZ: We'll tell you whether or not that they are making progress, coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPEC STEVEN LITTLEFIELD (ph), U.S. ARMY: Specials Steven Littlefield here at Camp Liberty, right now (INAUDIBLE) Oklahoma is where I'm from. I just want to say hello, mom (INAUDIBLE) California. If it wasn't for you I wouldn't be here right now. And I know you support me 100 percent of the way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE NELSON, BROTHER DIED IN IRAQ: My name is Dave and on behalf of my four brothers and sister, I want to salute our brother, Corporal Richard J. Nelson, who died in a roadside bombing on April 14, 2008. I salute Rick for his courage to join the military and become a Marine in time of war. I salute him for his honorable life that he lived, the respect he showed people. We love you Rick, we think about you every day, and we'll see you again some day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, we do want to tell you about information we're just getting in about a plane crash. This is over in Europe. Take you to Belgium, specifically where this is, but in Brussels at the airport there, a large cargo plane, a Boeing 747, crashed trying to take off there from the Brussels Airport and we understand that it actually split in two. Now, as horrible as that actually sounds, we're told that four of the five crew members who were on board were only slightly injured. We don't know what the cause of this crash possibly was, at the time, don't know anything about weather conditions in the area at the time, either, but it came to a halt at the end of the runway which was actually near some homes and actually near a cemetery.

So again, a Boeing 747 cargo plane, again cargo plane, no passengers on board this thing, split in two, crashed there at the Brussels airport a short time ago. We're trying to get work this story, get more information about what happened. But again, four of the five crew members, we understand, were only slightly injured on board that, but we're keeping an eye on this situation happening over in Belgium.

And also, some other headlines that we are taking on this morning, as well.

DE LA CRUZ: That's right, Columbia's government says the leader of a leftist group accused of kidnapping hundreds of people, there, may be dead. Officials say intelligence suggests that the leader nicknamed "Sure Shot," may have died of a heart attack back in March. Officials believe "Sure Shot" was about 80 years old.

HOLMES: Well, federal authorities are investigating what caused a helicopter to crash on Catalina Island, this is just off the coast, about 20 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, as you see there. Three people were killed when the chopper went down, three others were seriously hurt. Eyewitnesses actually say they saw a huge explosion right before the helicopter crashed. We understand this was actually a sightseeing helicopter that did crash.

DE LA CRUZ: Charred earth left behind along the central California coast. Wildfire there is have destroyed at least 20 homes, hundreds more still in danger. Nearly 2,000 residents evacuated the area. Fire officials say 3,800 acres has burned. The blaze now about 35 percent contained, but it could still take several days before it is all under control.

HOLMES: Well, Vern Yip became one of television's biggest designers after starting on "Trading Spaces." He has gone into many people's homes and now our Melissa Long takes us "To the Top" into Yip's own home.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERN YIP, ARCHITECT/DISINTER: These are items from my travels.

MELISSA LONG, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Vern Yip isn't the type to follow someone else's design. Born in Hong Kong, Yip and his family moved to America when he was a baby. His parents wanted him to be a doctor, but Yip had other plans.

YIP: As a kid, I was fascinated by buildings and the whole process of how buildings come together. Very, very sort of standard mediocre doctor which is not what the world needs, but I felt like I really could do something significant in design.

LONG: Yip went on to become a successful architect starting his own firm in 1999. He was use to design for big clients with big money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vern, how are you doing today?

YIP: Good morning.

LONG: Then a television show called "Trading Spaces" took him into the homes of people who had much smaller design budgets.

YIP: Design doesn't belong to the top rung of the socioeconomic ladder. Design belongs into everybody's home. When you do a room for $1,000, it immediately becomes accessible to a much, much broader group of people.

LONG: Now Yip hosts HGTV's "Deserving Designs" and is a judge on "Design Stars."

YIP: Design isn't about making a space pretty or attractive; it's not just the aesthetic component. It's the fact you can literally give somebody a better life by giving them better space.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Well, coming up here a Memorial Day tribute you do not want to miss.

DE LA CRUZ: honoring the nation's heroes who served in uniform. It hits a lot closer to the heart when that hero was also your soul mate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're looking at a picture of Corporal Albert Gettings and his former wife Stephanie. Corporal Albert Gettings had his life taken on January 5, 2006. And he embodied what it meant to be a United States Marine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: And again part of our tribute to this weekend to those who have lost loved ones in battle. We're doing those all this Memorial Day weekend. So, nice to see a lot of those, a lot of i- Reporters contributing.

DE LA CRUZ: And we are asking you to share your i-Reports, as well. You can log onto ireport.com.

HOLMES: And meanwhile, the federal government has designated 125 burial sites as national cemeteries to honor the men and women who serve in uniform.

DE LA CRUZ: And one of the newest is the Georgia National Cemetery, it's just outside of Atlanta, just outside of canton. It's a place where every day is Memorial Day.

WOLF: Every single day. It never ends. This is, Georgia National Cemetery, is actually 123 on the list. And every single day they accept men and women from all the armed force and every one of them is very special.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice over): A world away unto itself. Seven-hundred and seventy-five rolling acres of manicured lawns and white marble brushing against the clouds. For thousands of American veterans this Memorial Day, it is their final home.

SUE LIPKO, HUSBAND BURIED AT GEORGIA NATL CEM: That's my darling right there.

WOLF: In the decades ahead, thousands more will likely join them.

BRION MOORE, DIR GEORGIA NATL CEMETERY: Each veteran is given the honor to have served our country and it is our honor, duty, and responsibility to pay them that same honor in return.

WOLF: Each day, Monday through Friday, lines of cars slowly ascend the winding mountain road a gentle climb towards heaven. At the top, honor guards stand vigil. Silently they receive each fallen hero. They salute and volley. Eternal thanks from a grateful nation. Even a sailor lost at sea is not forgotten. For the families, it is a place of indescribable peace and comfort.

LIPKO: You had a beautiful service, honey, it was absolutely gorgeous here. But it could be only the best for you because you were the best.

WOLF: Sue Lipko said goodbye to the love of her life in January. This Memorial Day weekend she has come back for the first time.

LIPKO: Just wish that I could hold you again.

WOLF: For a few minutes on a warm but overcast day in late May, she pauses to reflect on retired Air Force master sergeant and Vietnam veteran, Andrew Lipko, Jr.

LIPKO: He was a security policeman. He started out as a dog trainer in the K-9 section. When he went to Vietnam, it was a hard time for myself and my children. He was in Da Nang and when the news was broadcast, bombings in Da Nang I was very concerned and hopeful and praying that he wasn't near that.

WOLF (on camera): Your son, Bill, followed his dad into the Air Force.

LIPKO: Yes, he did. And this is a picture of Bill and Andy. After Bill received his commission when they came outside, Bill gave his father the Air Force salute and then he gave him this coin, which represents the Air Force and the bond the two of them have together.

WOLF (voice over): Hers is a story with countless variations, all repeating the same theme. Wearing the uniform was important, it mattered. In this special place, the sacrifice is never forgotten.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF: In a world where heroes seem in such short supply, look no further than the men and women in the armed forces, past and present. They so freely give and they keep us free, they keep the world free, and we're always in thanks. Every day is Memorial Day. HOLMES: It's nice to see stories. You know, we need to see those stories. We do the numbers so often times and this many dead, this many dead this year, this month and whatnot, but good to see. Bring it home to people how some of you are touched by this and what has happened. Reynolds, we appreciate you sharing that with us.

DE LA CRUZ: Great story.

WOLF: Anytime, guys.

HOLMES: We are going to continue to share with you, all our viewers, more stories from people who have lost loved ones on the battlefield on this Memorial Day weekend as we leave you here on this break. We'll be right back, but show you the beautiful scene this morning from Arlington National Cemetery where Memorial Day services certainly taking place throughout the weekend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my brother, David Kirkpatrick. What I miss about him most is just his humor. He was such a funny kid and, I mean, he was quiet, but anything he said, anything that came out of his mouth was always funny. He always had something to tell you and he was only 20 and we miss him so much and we miss him more and more every day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Good morning again, and welcome back to this CNN Sunday morning. I'm T.J. Holmes.

DE LA CRUZ: And I'm Veronica de la Cruz, good morning to you. Always nice to see you. Here's a quick look at today's top stories. A new quake aftershock this morning to tell you about in China. One person was killed and about 400 others injured. Dozens of aftershocks have followed the May 12 earthquake. The death toll from that quake has now reached more than 62,600 -- T.J.

HOLMES: Also two tornado deaths to report in Kansas, now, the bodies found yesterday. Authorities say their car was blown off a highway Friday night. That car ended up some 150 feet off the highway.

DE LA CRUZ: And there were no deaths to report during yesterday's fierce storms in Oklahoma. The worst damage was a pig farm. Take a look at these pictures, blown apart by a slow-moving tornado. Amazingly enough, there were no serious injuries. However, there is possibility of more severe weather today. Let's go ahead and take it over now to the Severe Weather Center where our meteorologist, Reynolds Wolf, is keeping a close eye on it -- Reynolds.

WOLF: Hi guys. Did you can see that video just a moment ago? Look at this for a moment. The stuff that is the most deadly in the tornado is not the wind, but rather the stuff that gets picked up by the wind and becomes a projectile. For example, the pieces of boards, the nails, the rocks, the debris is really the killer. That's what you really have to watch out for, certainly scary things and something we may see again today because the setup for the atmosphere is very similar to what we had yesterday.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HOLMES: Reynolds, we appreciate it.

DE LA CRUZ: Thanks, Reynolds.

HOLMES: Well, the next contest for Democrats in the presidential race, one week from today, it's in Puerto Rico. That primary happening, there. It's the biggest prize left in the battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Our Jim Acosta on the political beat in Middletown, Connecticut, a place where Barack Obama will be and many people didn't expect him to be, just got word a few days ago.

Explain to people what's happening there.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He had some homework to do, T.J. We're at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and Senator Ted Kennedy was scheduled to give the commencement address here at this university, his stepdaughter goes here, but for obvious medical reasons he wasn't able to complete that task, so he asked not too bad of a stand-in, Barack Obama, to fill in. And so, we'll hear the senator here in just a few moments. He's expected to give not a stump speech, his aides say, but a commencement speech. So, it'll be a different side of Barack Obama that we'll see here.

His aides are saying that he will be paying tribute to a Kennedy lifetime of service. That's expected to be his remarks, the bulk of his remarks, here at Wesleyan University. But, Barack Obama was in Puerto Rico, T.J., as you mentioned, over the weekend, as was Hillary Clinton. They're both battling for that upcoming primary, which is one week from today. And on his campaign plane returning back to the United States, or at least back to the mainland from Puerto Rico, Senator Obama addressed the controversy over those disputed delegates from Florida and Michigan and he accused the Clinton campaign of trying to pull a fast one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Clinton campaign has been stirring this up for fairly transparent reasons. They weren't stirring it up when they didn't need the delegates, right? So, I think, you know, let's not be, you know, sort of -- pretend that we don't know what's going on. I mean, this is, from their perspective, their last slender hope to make arguments about how they can win, and I understand that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Now, before Barack Obama left the island territory there, he managed to work in some time, T.J. This is the Spanish- speaking Caribbean, as you know, and so he was able to show off some of his moves there. We've seen this from time to time from the Illinois senator and so apparently he did some of that yesterday credit in Puerto Rico. I won't -- I can't really tell you exactly how that was received by the Puerto Ricans, there, but you know, it's an island, they all like to dance.

HOLMES: They all like to dance, they're smiling -- can't see if they're smiling or laughing at him as he's dancing. But, I wasn't to ask you, as well, about what's happening at that college. I mean, if you have to change speakers a couple days before graduation, that's tough enough, but to accommodate, of all people, Barack Obama with the security, with his fan base, with the Secret Service. Tell us just how much this college has had to scramble and how things are going to be different at this graduation than they would have been.

ACOSTA: Well, it was a big time scramble, T.J. We just heard from some university officials, here before we set up here, and they were saying they've been up all night, over the last couple days, putting the finishing touches on this. Obviously, they weren't expecting the presidential campaign to descend on this campus, and they're expecting a big crowd here, T.J., not just the parents and the students who obviously are here to celebrate this commencement, but they've opened up lawn seating. I don't want to make it sound like a Jimmy Buffett concert, but there's lawn seating here for Barack Obama for folks who are just coming from the surrounding areas to see the Illinois senator speak, here.

HOLMES: Wow. Yes, they had to scramble, but still a treat for a lot of people to have the presidential candidate stop by the college. Jim Acosta there in Middletown, Connecticut. Good to see you this morning, sir.

ACOSTA: You bet.

DE LA CRUZ: I thought he looked pretty good dancing.

HOLMES: He did. Of course he does. The man has moves.

DE LA CRUZ: I don't think anybody was laughing at him.

HOLMES: Not at all, we have seen him dance several times out there on the campaign trail. And yes, he is hot. Yes, there he is again. He's good.

DE LA CRUZ: See, he's looking good, T.J. Yeah?

HOLMES: Yeah, we've seen him dance plenty of times before. I'm just teasing the senator.

DE LA CRUZ: Well, aides say he's just having some friends over for a social gathering, but it's who John McCain is hosting that is generating all the political buzz this weekend.

HOLMES: The guest list for McCain's his get-together includes former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, Florida governor, Charlie Crist and Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, all three have been rumored to be potential running mates for McCain. However, the McCain camp says it's not that kind of party.

And don't miss your chance to hear from the candidates in their own words. Politics, unfiltered, our BALLOT BOWL, today at 4:00 Eastern, only right on CNN, which of course, is your home for politics.

DE LA CRUZ: A red letter day for NASA or should we say a red planet day? NASA's phoenix lander, now about 10 hours away from reaching Mars. This is an animation, it's supposed to show you what's going to happen. And NASA has had problems with previous landers. The Phoenix craft is expected to land near the planet's north pole. It's looking for signs of life past or present. And you can see it all right here on CNN. Miles O'Brien hosting a one-hour special from mission control in Pasadena, California. It starts tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, the landing set for 7:53 Eastern and we will be taking it live with guests and special coverage all leading up to what hopefully, T.J., will be a success landing. Right?

HOLMES: They have their fingers crossed. They actually do. But they are on edge, right about now. But, looking forward to that. Also, coming up here, we're going to be talking to the children of our fallen military service members.

DE LA CRUZ: How do you cope with losing your mom or dad at such a young age? A program that's helping kids deal with tragedy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a very warm-hearted person, and you could see the caring in his eyes when he would talk about his family, and he'd talk about his children and his wife and how he was worried about them but that he was very upbeat about preparing to go to Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DE LA CRUZ: You know, more than 4,000 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq since the war began, and one program is trying to help the families of those service men and women deal with their loss. Since last year, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, also known as TAPS, has held seminars around the country. Bonnie Carroll started TAPS and she joins us now live from Washington.

Bonnie, thank you so much for your time, today. We do appreciate it.

BONNIE CARROLL, TAPS FOUNDER: Thank you.

DE LA CRUZ: So, Bonnie, I wanted to ask you to tell us more about TAPS and why exactly you decided to start this program.

CARROLL: OK, TAPS is the national organization for all those whose lives have been touched by a death in the armed forces or in support of the military mission. Back in 1992, when my husband was killed in the Army in a plane crash with seven other soldiers, there was no support organization for military families. So, with the help of the other families from that incident, we started work. We talked with the Department of Defense, the V.A., the other peer based support programs in America and over the course of two years developed TAPs. And you know, it's really stood the test of time. Today, TAPS is a very large national nonprofit organization providing support, comfort, and care to 25,000 family members.

DE LA CRUZ: Twenty-five thousand family members. Wow. So, I wanted to say through your loss you have been able to help tens of thousands cope with their loss, and I can only imagine how difficult the process must be, how difficult it must be when children are involved. And I understand that you have set up something called the "Good Grief Camp." Can you explain what that is?

CARROLL: It's an amazing program, and we have helped thousands of children. Now, it provides four basic services. Kids get together in their own age group, so they have 8-year-olds talking to 8-year- olds in their own language about their loss and the challenges that they're facing. They're paired one-on-one with a military mentor who we have trained to work with children and traumatic grief and it gives them an opportunity to reconnect with the military in their own right. And it's a great program for the military, as well.

Kids also then, in their age groups, work with the counselors, and they learn coping strategies, so they can handle the challenges they face day-to-day, and then the kids participate in ceremonies around Washington this Memorial Day weekend, so they understand how America honors those who have served and died and that their family is part of that legacy.

DE LA CRUZ: That's wonderful. That is wonderful, and I understand there is one very special little girl that you wanted to tell us about. Her name is Sierra Becker.

CARROLL: She's an amazing, amazing young girl. She is eight years old but she's got the wisdom of someone many, many, many times her age. Her father was killed in Iraq in April of 2007, and you know, when the notification team came to her home, she stood in the door and she said, "not my daddy," but it was, and Sierra has been a support to her mom and her new little baby sister, who was born just 28 days before her father was killed.

Sierra -- actually her mom stayed up at Fort Richardson, Alaska, a little bit longer so Sierra could go to the Good Grief Camp we held at Fort. Richardson. They then got in the care, they moved down to Texas and they attended the Good Grief Camp we held at Fort Hood, just a few weeks later. So, this actually, now coming to the big national seminar will be Sierra's first -- third, excuse me, her third seminar, her first national one.

DE LA CRUZ: Good news. You know, I can only imagine how difficult it must be when there are children involved. But, what do you say to them? Tell us a little bit about the process. How do you help them cope?

CARROLL: Well, it's understanding that they're not alone. It's validating a loss that they're feeling and connecting them with others who can be a support system for them as they go along. We do all sorts of memorial activities, including they write a letter to their loved one and they attach it to a balloon and we release those balloons with a message of I love you, I remember you, and it just reconnects that child with their father. It lets them know that the father will always be a part of their life and will not be forgotten and that America will remember, also.

DE LA CRUZ: Bonnie, before we let you, go I just want to say congratulations, because I understand that you were actually awarded recently with the highest level of public service award from the office of the Secretary of Defense so congratulations on that award, on the medal.

CARROLL: Thank you very much, Veronica.

DE LA CRUZ: Bonnie Carroll is the director and the founder of TAPS, it is the tragedy assistance program for survivors. Bonnie thank you for your time today, we appreciate it.

CARROLL: Thank you so much.

DE LA CRUZ: And we're honoring the fallen, this morning. We will have more of your tributes, more of your i-Reports, straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GAIL POINDEXTER, MOTHER: My name is Gail Poindexter and this is my son, Sergeant Joel W. Lewis. The Army drew him in because he would not have survived behind a desk job. Being so tall, 6'6" you think, you know, kind of would be intimidating, but people were kind of drawn to him. He was a superb young man who was killed in Iraq on 5/6/07 and will be greatly missed and loved forever.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DE LA CRUZ: Forty-eight minutes after the hour now, let's take a look at some of the other headlines making news this morning.

HOLMES: Legendary comedian and director, Dick Martin, has died. Martin is best known as co-host of the 1960s hit "Laugh In." A spokesman for Martin's family says the 86-year-old comedian died from respiratory complications.

DE LA CRUZ: And rolling for the gold. In San Diego the city hosting one of the regional runoffs for the Soapbox Derby. It's about kids building their own cars with nothing but gravity to power them. Two of the kids from San Diego qualified for the 71st Annual All American Soapbox Derby, that's July 26 in Akron, Ohio. You didn't qualify, sorry, but you look jealous watching the video.

HOLMES: Well, because they're not spending money on gas. So, yeah, I'm a bit jealous because the price of gas, as we've been talking about all weekend, here has hit really a record high, really, I think every day for the past two weeks.

DE LA CRUZ: Is it $4 yet?

HOLMES: Not yet. We're getting there, $3.93 a gallon, according to AAA, right now. But, if you've ever been tempted to find another way, maybe a soapbox, soapbox derby, now is the time to maybe try some new things.

DE LA CRUZ: Yeah, maybe not a soapbox in this situation. In Washington, D.C., Zain Verjee, our own Zain Verjee, along with Tom Foreman, Jamie McIntyre they set out by car, train, and bike to see who would get to work first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZANE VERJEE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I'm going to beat these two boys by taking the metro to the bureau. A little bit of a walk and one straight shot.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I'm driving and I fully expect to be thwarted by Washington rush hour traffic.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I'm going on the bicycle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's that way.

VERJEE: Bye, darling.

MCINTYRE: Get off the road, buddy! Eat my dust! We're in Bethesda, Maryland, and we're way out ahead at the moment.

FOREMAN: First thing, take advantage of a little shortcut.

VERJEE: OK. We're at the Bethesda Station. It is 8:46 in the morning. It's going to cost me $2.90.

MCINTYRE: Connecticut Avenue is moving well. We've got a shot at this.

FOREMAN: Right now, I'm cutting underneath some of the heaviest traffic that's above this tunnel that I'm in.

MCINTYRE: So, we're back here stuck at a light, again.

VERJEE: It is 9:05, not too crowded. Wonder how Foreman is?

FOREMAN: This is where you love it. Everybody is caught in traffic and you just go smoking right past them.

MCINTYRE: We are really in the homestretch now. If this car would just go, go, buddy, go, come on, we're in a race here for crying out loud.

VERJEE: I think we are in good shape.

MCINTYRE: We are two blocks away now. We are in really good shape.

VERJEE: Here we are, Union Station and it's 9:15.

MCINTYRE: There's CNN. You haven't seen Tom Foreman or Zain Verjee, have you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

MCINTYRE: All right.

VERJEE: (SINGING)

MCINTYRE: I'm not sure where we're supposed to go so we'll go to the main desk.

VERJEE: 9:21.

FOREMAN: We're just getting killed on time, here.

(APPLAUSE)

MCINTYRE: Thank you, thank you. Once again, fossil fuels win out.

VERJEE: Whoa! I won.

MCINTYRE: No, I was here first.

VERJEE: Were you really?

MCINTYRE: Yes.

VERJEE: No he was not. He was not here first.

MCINTYRE: I was getting my coffee.

FOREMAN: I fear we have lost. When did you guys get here, like five minutes ago?

VERJEE: He beat me by eight minutes.

FOREMAN: Really?

VERJEE: So he...

FOREMAN: How did you beat her?

MCINTYRE: Took the back way.

FOREMAN: We had a lot of technical challenges that you don't have in a car and you don't have on a train.

VERJEE: Like?

FOREMAN: Well, like having a second bicycle and a camera and stopping and starting and gears that you had to stop and reload and stuff. A little more complex in that way, so we probably had in soccer terms, we probably had at least 30 minutes of stoppage time.

MCINTYRE: All right, so we should subtract that.

FOREMAN: At least 30, maybe 40.

MCINTYRE: And you still lose.

FOREMAN: How much did we spend on our commute today? I'm going to start. Let me start the bidding at zero.

VERJEE: $2.90.

FOREMAN: Nothing.

MCINTYRE: It only took me about $4, maybe a gallon of gas to get here.

You know what the best thing is? Options.

MCINTYRE: Jamie McIntyre.

VERJEE: Zain Verjee.

FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: OK. Tom is a bit of a sore loser. Zain might have won if she wouldn't have been dancing down the street to the beat on that iPod. Hey, what's she doing?

Well, it's time for us now to check in with Howard Kurtz, hopefully he made it into work on time, in Washington to see what's ahead on RELIABLE SOURCES -- Howard.

HOWARD KURTZ, RELIABLE SOURCES: Coming up, Hillary Clinton fighting for political survival complains about sexism and misogamy in the media. Have some commentators gone too far?

CBS's Kimberly Dozier battling back from a devastating bombing in Baghdad two years ago this weekend. Why is television all about giving up on the war that nearly killed her?

Plus Laura Dern as her role as Katherine Harris in the movie "Recount." Has the HBO film strayed too far from the facts. That and the story behind Bill O'Reilly attack on General Electric, ahead on RELIABLE SOURCES.

DE LA CRUZ: Also ahead, children reminding us all of a valuable lesson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I learned that you don't -- it doesn't matter what age you are or how big or small you are, you can help someone. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well we'll introduce you to some third graders who were determined to help the less fortunate more than 1,000 miles away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a picture of my brother, Sergeant Jason Vaughn. The thing I most admired about my brother was his kindness and compassion for others. We always said that he should have been a politician because he could really work a room. He was killed May the 10th, 2007 in Baqubah, Iraq. And we will always miss him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DE LA CRUZ: We are remembering our nation's fallen heroes on this Memorial Day weekend.

HOLMES: Well, all right now, we are all going to get a lesson here. Third grader is going to give us, a lesson on compassion.

DE LA CRUZ: They reached out to the needy hundreds of miles away with huge hearts and a chunk of cash just to bring fresh water to one community and our Brianna Keilar has their story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In parts of the world, some people have to walk miles just to get some water. What they get is not even clean. That's the message a group of third graders at Oak Grove Elementary in Atlanta heard from one of the student's grandmothers. "Grams," as the kids call her, has worked with aid groups to build water wells in underdeveloped areas of Africa.

RISATA PRASA, 3RD GRADER: It really made me sad to know that I can just walk up anywhere and do whatever I want and they have a really hard time just getting water.

KEILAR: Almost immediately the students wanted to turn their concern into action.

JODI MCMAHON, TEACHER: One of our students, Risata, said, well, can we do that? Can we raise money and build a well? And Laura and I looked at each other and we said: why not, sure, absolutely.

KEILAR: A well is not cheap. One like this in the Central American nation of Nicaragua with cost between $4,000 and $10,000, not exactly chump change particularly for 8-year-olds.

SUZY BLOUGH, P;ARENT: I really, thought, OK, if they raised a couple hundred, maybe a thousand, that would be phenomenal, it's a great effort.

KEILAR: But the 35 students had bigger ideas. They made plans. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we are you working for is a dollar a day.

KEILAR: Presentations and studied the conditions in Nicaragua where they thought their money could make a difference. The MicMac Give Back, as they now called their project, set out to raise $10,000 in the six weeks before the end of school.

They started with a lemonade stand. In one afternoon they brought in more than 200 bucks. A bake sale, a fair selling the students craft projects and a school-wide read-a-thon sooner soon followed. They MicMac's collected pledges for the number of books they read. As the school year ended, they not only reached their goal, they exceed to it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we'd like to present to you a check for $14,000 that we have raised.

KEILAR: They handed the check over to the founder of Women Thrive, an advocacy group that will work with local aid organizations in Nicaragua to build the well and let the people there know who paid for them.

RITU SHARMA-FOX, WOMAN THRIVE: I think when they know that these kids in Atlanta not only heard their story, but reached out to help, I know that that that is going to mean it's worth more than a million dollars of diplomacy. This is what making a better world is all about.

KEILAR: And the two teachers say this achievement has taught their students a lesson they won't soon forget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Knowing we made a difference just made it all worth it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I learned that you don't -- it doesn't matter what age you are or how big or small you are, you can help someone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once you start helping, you just can't stop. You just want to keep going, keep raising money, because there are so many needs in the world.

KEILAR: Brianna Keilar, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DE LA CRUZ: They really are cute, the MicMac's. I love that.

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