Work at ground zero
May 28th, 2011
11:18 PM ET

Rebuilding, remembering at ground zero

Editor's Note: CNN's Soledad O'Brien and Rose Marie Arce were given rare access last week to the entire complex under construction at ground zero for an upcoming CNN documentary, "Beyond Bravery: The Women of 9/11." Here are their impressions after touring the site:

New York (CNN) - You have to walk downhill to get into ground zero, which is an odd feeling because the World Trade Center complex was all about looking up.

It looks like a noisy, massive construction zone from the outside, but inside you can see how much progress has been made as the 10th anniversary of September 11 approaches.

The public has gotten few glimpses of what's unfolding here, mostly during ceremonies or when dignitaries have visited or the waterfalls were tested.

Filmmakers, photographers and historians duck in to gather material they will unveil in the future. Architect Michael Arad, survivor of a bruising process to design a 9/11 memorial, says he gives occasional interviews alongside the memorial. The folks who work here are very protective of this site.

But last week, Arad gave us a rare tour of the entire complex.

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Flags for fallen soldiers
May 28th, 2011
08:04 PM ET

As Memorial Day beckons, soldiers pay respect to war dead

As the nation prepared to celebrate Memorial Day by relaxing with family and friends, some U.S. soldiers partook in a far more somber ritual: Visiting the gravesites of fallen comrades.

Staff Sgt. Bradley Falls, an Afghanistan veteran, said he deemed it an honor to come to Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery and plant fresh, crisp flags in the burial plots of soldiers past.

“It’s especially an honor for us when you’ve been on the other side of it and now you can come here and you can bring honor to their final resting place,” Falls said.

“We all know somebody buried here personally,” he said as he leaned down and jabbed a small flag into the soil.

Sgt. Cherry Smith, an Iraq veteran, said she has a greater appreciation for the sacrifice of men and women in uniform.

“Now that I’ve actually served and came from Iraq, (I realize) they paid the way, so without them we wouldn’t be here,” she said.

But the stoic remembrances were not just left to service members. Civilians also have found ways to memorialize U.S. soldiers killed in combat.

Numerous cities around the nation planned Memorial Day observances to honor the U.S. armed forces.

High school student Ricky Gilleland, 17, runs a website that serves as a virtual database for soldiers killed in the line of duty.

Looking at his website, Preserveandhonor.com, Ricky said he is struck by how young the men and women were who have given their lives for their country.

“It’s sad because I come here and look at the birth dates and death dates and I think, ‘These are kids not much older than me,'" he said.

The site has received more than 1 million hits since its October launch.

Ricky said his intent is to provide families with a way, however small, to commune with their dead loved ones and appreciate their sacrifice.

“I hope that they can go on (the website) and feel a little bit of comfort in knowing that they’re not just a number of casualties, or anything like that, they’re actual people.”

Also, the nation's military leaders expressed admiration for soldiers serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and bases around the world.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates choked up recently when talking about the responsibility of sending Americans off to two wars.

"I've done my best to care for them as though they were my own sons and daughters," Gates said when he was at the White House last month. "They are the best America has to offer ... And I will miss them deeply."

"Virtually every day since taking this post, I've written condolence letters to the families of the fallen," Gates said in a videotaped Memorial Day message. "I will always keep all of you in my heart and in my prayers as long as I live - as should all Americans."

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, recalled the loss of his buddies while he served in Vietnam.

He said his Memorial Day will be spent at home in El Paso, Texas, visiting the Fort Bliss National Cemetery and the grave of his father-in-law, who served in World War II and Korea.

"The experience of Vietnam, at least for me, is not just reserved for Memorial Day," Reyes said from his Washington office. "I think back to the buddies I lost in Vietnam."

"War is not like it is in the movies ... there is no music. There is constant fear, body parts, death."

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Filed under: Medal of Honor • Military • Veterans
Love, Down Under: Dating agency matches single women to farmers
"Brides" pursue a single male on a race track as part of a radio promotion in Brisbane, Australia.
May 28th, 2011
02:59 PM ET

Love, Down Under: Dating agency matches single women to farmers

Pop singer Beyonce told single ladies to put their hands up, but maybe she should have directed them Down Under.

A dating agency is shuttling busloads of single women to rural areas in hopes that they’ll find lonely farmers, according to an article in the London Telegraph.

Contacted by CNN late Friday, Brie Peters said she got the idea for the single women tours from a chance encounter.

“I’m lucky enough to have some friends that live in the outback of Australia,” she said, “and we were at a pub one night and the pub owner said, ‘Brie, you’ll be interested in this, ‘I know a lot of single women that send me letters’ ” looking for rural men, she said.

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Filed under: Australia • World
Some Yemeni residents flee homes as clashes rage
Yemeni anti-government protesters in Sanaa shout slogans Saturday calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
May 28th, 2011
12:11 PM ET

Some Yemeni residents flee homes as clashes rage

Some Yemeni residents heeded calls to evacuate parts of their capital city Saturday in expectation of further clashes between the country's long-time president Ali Abdullah Saleh and tribal leaders, but most remained firmly entrenched in their homes, according to witnesses.

The order was carried out by members of the country's Republican Guard and law enforcement, who warned residents in city neighbourhoods of more confrontations after tensions flared Friday between Nehm tribesmen and soldiers of the Republican Guard.

The tribesmen said the soldiers attacked a village, but tribal fighters, battling back, managed to take over military compounds.

Meanwhile, armed tribesmen were seen massing at four locations around the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, witnesses said, as well as near the house of Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar, the leader of the powerful al-Hashid tribe whose forces oppose the government.

Read the complete story on CNN.com

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Filed under: World • Yemen
May 28th, 2011
04:33 AM ET

Taliban claims responsibility for Pakistan blast

A blast Saturday at an anti-Taliban meeting in northwest Pakistan killed eight people and wounded 12, a senior government official said.

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Filed under: Pakistan
Macabre body ID process adds to Joplin's pain
A spray-painted message sums up the helplessness -- and hope -- some feel in Joplin, Missouri, after a tornado hit the city.
May 28th, 2011
12:39 AM ET

Macabre body ID process adds to Joplin's pain

A Newton County, Missouri, official said authorities would begin streamlining the process of identifying bodies Saturday in Joplin in the aftermath of a killer tornado.

"The decision was made that if a person can make a positive ID, let’s say for instance … piercings or tattoos," said Mark Bridges of the Newton County, Missouri, coroner’s office, "[Saturday] we’re gonna start the process of allowing those people to view the bodies of the loved ones."

"We’re going to go ahead and start releasing those bodies," he said.

Already frayed nerves reached a boiling point Friday in Joplin, Missouri, as families trying to retrieve their dead loved ones were stalled by cautious medical examiners meticulously trying to sort remains.

The deadliest tornado ever recorded in the U.S. smashed through the city Sunday, killing 132 people and leaving more than 156 unaccounted for.

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Filed under: Joplin • Missouri • Tornadoes • Weather