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In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, KUNC presents a day of special programming from NPR News, StoryCorps, The Sonic Memorial Project, and independent radio producers and reporters nationwide. All coverage will be collected in this archive.6:00 AM – 12:00 PM: NPR Special Coverage“To mark 10 years since the attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon on September 11, NPR will air coverage leading up to September 11 and on the day itself. The overarching theme of coverage is: How has America changed? NPR will air rigorous reporting on everything from national security to politics to our culture, and also reflecting on the human toll -- the impact of September 11th on people's lives and our country. Hosted by Audie Cornish”12:00 PM – 1:00 PM: StoryCorps: We Remember“An intimate look at lives forever changed by the attacks on 9/11. These are stories from families and friends who tell us about their loved ones and their loss: the father who recalls the last words he shared with his son, the recovery worker who discovers a new meaning for normal, the fireman's daughter who knew that her dad who perished in the line of duty wouldn't have wanted it any other way. On the 10th anniversary of the attacks, host Audie Cornish checks in with StoryCorps families to find out how they make their way today.”1:00 PM – 2:00 PM: Our 9/11: Growing Up in The Aftermath“WNYC's Radio Rookies and PRX, in partnership with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, looks at the 9/11 attacks through the eyes of young people who were just kids when the towers fell: a girl whose dad never returned from police duty, two families ripped apart by trauma, a Muslim girl who coped with the angry reaction to her faith, and a young man who has helped one community remember. Hosted by On the Media's Brooke Gladstone.”2:00 PM – 3:00: The Sonic Memorial Project“On the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, we re-visit The Sonic Memorial Project, which commemorates the life and history of the World Trade Center and the people who passed through its doors. A collaboration between The Kitchen Sisters Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, PRX, NPR, independent producers, and stations and listeners nationwide, the project was created with audio artifacts, rare recordings, and the input of thousands of people who called in with their personal stories.”3:00 PM: Bob Edwards Weekend Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times joins Bob to talk about 9/11, then and now. Shortly after the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001 writer Joan Murray read her poem, “Survivors Found,” on NPR’s Morning Edition, the program Bob hosted at the time. Ten years later, she’s back to reflect on that poem, and how it helped people heal from the tragedy.4:00 PM: This American LifeTEN YEARS IN: In this show, we return to people who've been on This American Life in the last ten years, whose lives were drastically altered by 9/11, including Hyder Akbar, an Afghan-American teen who moved to Afghanistan after his father was tapped to become governor of Kunar province there; Marian Fontana, whose husband Dave was a fireman who died in the Twin Towers; and Lynn Simpson, who escaped from the 89th floor and made it out of the World Trade Center with about a minute to spare.6:00 PM: NPR Special CoverageNPR will offer live, anchored coverage of A Concert for Hope, which will be held at The Kennedy Center at 8pm ET. President Obama will speak during the concert, which will also feature performances by Patti Labelle, Alan Jackson and Denyce Graves.

Richard Engel: Covering War For A Decade

Richard  Engel is NBC News' chief foreign correspondent.
Dan Nelken
/
NBCU
Richard Engel is NBC News' chief foreign correspondent.

Richard Engel, the chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, has spent the past decade going to some of the more dangerous war zones on the planet. He has filed from Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan — and more recently covered the uprisings in Egypt, where he was tear gassed, and Libya, where he was almost shot in Benghazi while covering the conflict.

It wasn't the first time Engel has had a close call.

While on an assignment in Afghanistan in 2010, Engel spent several weeks embedded with soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division. The troops were returning from a memorial service located off-base when the Taliban attacked their compound. Engel continued reporting as the battle raged just yards outside of the base's wall.

"If [the U.S. soliders had lost] the Taliban would have gotten inside the base and probably tried to kill everybody inside," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "They didn't. ... They got very close. They got right up to the outskirts — maybe 5 meters, 10 meters from the walls."

And the attack, said Engel, was not unusual.

Then [I heard] the other sound which was a very distinct whistle and I just wanted to get down low so I dropped onto my stomach.

"I've seen a lot of battles like this," he says. "They're attacked and they fire back and they fight ferociously for about 30 minutes or so and three soldiers are badly injured in this firefight. ... And I've seen battles like this on little outposts in other parts of Afghanistan and when you add them up, [you ask] 'Why? What are these amounting to?' And when I was talking to soldiers about this, they say, 'We're supposedly here to help the Afghan people but sometimes the Afghans don't want the Americans help.' ... So why are they fighting all these little fights in remote valleys that the soldiers have never heard of? I think some of the soldiers come back and the answer is: They don't know why."

Engel's report from the Afghan base is included in Day of Destruction — Decade of War, a new MSNBC documentary Engel co-hosts with MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow. The documentary examines America's response to the Sept. 11 attacks and how the cost of war has affected both soldiers and those back home.

On today's Fresh Air, Engel talks about covering the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and his ways of dealing with long-term stress. (He scuba dives.) He also discusses his reporting of the uprisings in Egypt and Libya, where he narrowly avoided an artillery fire attack while interviewing a rebel last March.

"There [was] quite a close explosion that landed in front of me and because it land[ed] in front of me, I didn't hear the whistle," he says. "And then the rebel I was interviewing pushed me aside as he was running for cover. ... And then [I heard] the other sound which was a very distinct whistle and I just wanted to get down low so I dropped onto my stomach."

Engel says he then looked for anything hard to stand behind, to shield himself from the blast. He ran to a concrete barrier and crouched behind it, while his cameraman kept filming.

"He didn't stop recording," he says. "He didn't even lose focus. He heard the whistle and turned to it and catches the smoke as it explodes."

Gadhafi's Home: 'Not Particularly Attractive, Bad Kitsch'

While reporting on the front lines, Engel repeatedly crisscrossed the country in a car with his cameraman. He also spent a considerable amount of time at Moammar Gadhafi's former compound, which has become a Libyan tourist attraction in recent weeks. Among the more unusual level of things he saw? A small museum dedicated to the 1986 American airstrike on his compound.

"He's kept bits of shrapnel and pieces of the aircraft itself," he says. "[Behind the museum] was one of Gadhafi's bedrooms. So I went into his bedroom and his bathroom with a big Jacuzzi tub. The bed was a large double-king-size mattress and over it was a very bad painting of a seascape with a stormy night. It looked like a bad motel room from the '70s. It reminded me of Saddam's palaces — not particularly attractive, bad kitsch, sort of a casino built on the cheap."

Saddam's palaces — and Saddam's children's palaces — were more sadistic, says Engel.

"We found torture devices that Saddam's son was using on his people," he says. "I remember there was something that looked like something you'd see in a medieval torture museum. It was a cage, made of metal, and it was in the form of a human body — and it opened up, and he would put people inside of it, and lower them in water, or lower them in water with battery acid. He spent time looking up torture devices. So Saddam's regime was truly sadistic. I didn't find anything like that in Libya."

Richard Engel has received a Peabody Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award, the Medill Medal for Courage and the David Bloom Award for his coverage overseas. He is the author of A Fist in the Hornet's Nest,which he discussed on Fresh Air in 2004, as well as War Journal: My Five Years in Iraq.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.