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Will Protests Impact D-Day Remembrance?; Interview With Smarty Jones' Jockey

Aired June 4, 2004 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): They were American missionaries, which made them the target of Philippine kidnappers.

MARTIN BURNHAM, HOSTAGE: I, Martin Burnham, and my wife, Gracia, both U.S. citizens, were taken as captives on May 27.

ZAHN: After a year as hostages in the jungle, he was killed. She survived.

GRACIA BURNHAM, FORMER HOSTAGE: I want everyone to know that I'm fine.

ZAHN: Tonight, Gracia Burnham's harrowing story in our series "Held Captive."

Also, D-Day plus 60 years. The Germans are coming, the Russians are coming, the anti-war protesters are coming, too. Will the conflicts of a new era mar remembrance of the old?

And on the eve of his attempt at the Triple Crown, I will talk exclusively with Smarty Jones' jockey, Stewart Elliott.


ZAHN: Good evening. Welcome. Thanks for joining us and closing out the week with us.

This week in our series called "Held Captive," we have seen the best and worst of human nature. We've heard about the unrestrained fury of the Iraqis who shot down and captured American Army pilots Ron Young and David Williams. CBS correspondent Bob Simon told us of his ordeal in Saddam Hussein's Abu Ghraib prison during the first Gulf War. And Mary Quin recounted how she was forced to become her kidnapper's human shield.

Our guests have shared with us how they found the strength to endure, the courage to escape, the grace to move on.

Tonight, we end our series with one of the most heartbreaking stories of all. Before we meet Gracia Burnham, here is her story of being held captive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN (voice-over): It started as a dream celebration. It became a harrowing nightmare. Gracia and Martin Burnham had traveled from Kansas to the Philippines as missionaries. While celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at a Philippine beach resort, she says three guerrilla soldiers carrying M-16s burst into their room at dawn and kidnapped them, along with 18 other hostages.

Their captors? Abu Sayyaf, a guerrilla force fighting a holy war against the Philippine government, a group that identified itself as the Osama bin Laden group.

M. BURNHAM: I, Martin Burnham, and my wife Gracia, both U.S. citizens, were taken as captives on May 27, 2001.

ZAHN: And so began a year-long odyssey through the jungles of the Philippines. On the run from the Philippine army, Abu Sayyaf moved its hostages around at night, Mark often handcuffed.

M. BURNHAM: This is the chain that I carry.

ZAHN: Gracia lugging ammunition. Within weeks of the initial kidnapping, she remembers Abu Sayyaf released some captives for ransom, killed a couple of others, including an American, who was beheaded.

In late fall, only three hostages were left, including Gracia and Martin. Throughout the ordeal, home video was shipped back to the United States to show the Burnham family and the world the faces of the American hostages.

MARY JONES, SISTER OF GRACIA BURNHAM: They have no money for ransom and they are not a threat to anyone. Harming Martin and Gracia will not solve anything and will only deprive their children and our family of the people that we love.

ZAHN: After months of failed negotiations, the Philippine army launched a rescue raid on June 7, 2002. During the chaos, Martin and another hostage were shot and killed. Gracia suffered a gunshot wound to her leg, but was rescued and flown home for a bittersweet reunion with her three children.

G. BURNHAM: I think this must be one of the happiest moments of my whole life. We want to thank each and every one of you for every time you remembered us in prayer.

ZAHN: Prayers that could not save her husband, leaving a wife and mother to recover from a harrowing year and devastating loss.

G. BURNHAM: Martin also was a source of strength to all the hostages. He was a good man. And he died well. Again, it's good to be home. Keep praying for me and my kids as we begin to rebuild our lives. And thank you.


ZAHN: And earlier, Gracia Burnham joined me to talk about her nightmare and about her life since she was freed and returned home.


ZAHN: Where are you in your recovery process?

G. BURNHAM: I'm doing well, I think. I think I've thought through and dealt with a lot of the emotion of everything that happened to me. I think things are going very well for me and for my family.

ZAHN: How much do you reflect on what you've been through?

G. BURNHAM: Oh, I reflect on that a lot.

Sometimes just a smell or a sound or something that'll happen to me will just kind of drag me back into the jungle in my mind, and I can kind of stay there as long as I want to, just thinking about what happened, and trying to remember things. My memory is not as clear as it used to be, of course.

ZAHN: Well, there are so many ugly things I am sure you wanted to block out, 376 days in captivity. Most of that time, you were very hungry. When you think back to that period of captivity, where you were starving and you actually took a whole fish out of the water and ate it, you know, right out of the water, doesn't it kind of shock you that you were able to figure out how to survive?

G. BURNHAM: Yes, it does shock me. I'm the kind of person, I don't even like to go camping. And when the kids swim in the pool, I don't ever get in unless there's a hot tub or something there. I'm just not a rough and rugged person. I don't know how I did that.

ZAHN: You swallowed it whole?

G. BURNHAM: Well, I did. And I'm happy now that Martin didn't want some of it. I offered him some of it, and he didn't want, so I just ate the whole thing. I knew I needed it. I needed something in my stomach.

ZAHN: And, meanwhile, he was sniffing on candy wrappers?


ZAHN: To try to, I guess, work through the darkest moments of this. What was the worst part of the physical deprivation and degradation?

G. BURNHAM: The worst part about captivity I think was not being able to make any choices. They told you where you went to the bathroom. They told you where you slept on the ground at night. You had to be careful of what you said. You were never quite sure about your situation. I think the lack of control was probably the hardest thing.

ZAHN: And I guess you and your husband both were victims of Stockholm Syndrome, where it became increasingly difficult for you to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys?


We would remind ourselves quite often of who the good guys were. They were the ones chasing us and shooting guns at us. The bad guys were the guys who were feeding us and taking care of us. And that -- we had to remind ourselves. You're right.

ZAHN: And you had more freedom than your husband. At periods of your confinement, he was chained and you were able to wonder more freely, right?

G. BURNHAM: Yes. And they would even let me go pick up sticks for the fire, just get a little bit of exercise, whereas Martin had to stay right there by the tree he was chained to. I think that was the hardest thing for him. That's when I noticed the depression a little bit start to settle in with him, when he couldn't move at all.

ZAHN: And probably, in one of the worst twists of fate, your freedom came at a time when you witnessed the killing of your husband. How do you even begin to try to reconcile that?

G. BURNHAM: You know, I think through all the what-ifs. What if I hadn't made the reservations to go to Dos Palmas? If only the military hadn't found us that day. And when you start to go there, I'm not sure it's healthy. I think you need to just say, OK, this bad thing happened to us. This somehow was God's plan.

And it was good, because God's good and we're going to go with this, and we're going to go with what God has given us and believe that life can still be good. I don't try to second-guess so much like I used to.

ZAHN: Was there any point during the captivity where you wondered if there was a God?

G. BURNHAM: Oh, for sure. Well, no, I never wondered if there was a God. I remember week 10 was a hard week for me. I think I had given God a certain amount of time to get us out of there, and he wasn't listening to me or doing what I wanted him to do.

And I remember thinking, OK, God just doesn't love me, because if God loved me, I would be out of here. And I definitely had a crisis of faith. But all that, questioning God's love, led me to a really deep depression. And I remember, after about three days of that, Martin came to me and very gently said, you know, Gracia, it's sad to see you have given up your faith. And I said, I'm not giving up my faith. I still believe everything I believed, but I believe that God doesn't love me.

And Martin said, it seems to me you believe it all or you don't believe it at all. And just that little gentle reminder was enough to get me back on, OK, what do I believe? Am I going to trust my feelings and this horrible thing that's happening to us and keeps going on and on, or am I going to trust what I know to be true?

ZAHN: If Martin hadn't been with you, do you think you would have survived?

G. BURNHAM: Probably not, no. I think I just would have started walk out of there and let them shoot me one day. There were many days I said, you know what, I've had it. I'm not going any further. I'm just walking out of here.

And Martin would say, what would the children say to you if you could pick up the phone right now and call them? The children would say, go one more day, mom, because maybe tomorrow you'll get to come home. And he just talked me through that, talked me through every day. Bless his heart. He was so good and sweet.

ZAHN: And you found your way home.

How has this changed you as a person, the tremendous loss that you have suffered and the horror of what you witnessed, what you endured?

G. BURNHAM: Well, if you were to talk to my children to see how I have changed, they would say I have become a much more loving person. I think I saw the kind of person I really am when I was in the jungle. I always thought I was a pretty great person, you know, missionary, doing things for God.

And then when suddenly everything was taken away from me, I found out what I really was. You know, they were supposed to be the bad guys, but I would feel the hatred in my heart and the bitterness towards them. And I realized what I was when I was there in the jungle, my messiness. And I think, now that I'm home, I'm able to give people grace more. I don't expect perfection from my children, because I know what I am now.

And I don't expect everyone around me to be perfect and I don't expect life to go perfectly. I just think that things are going to be good because God's good.

ZAHN: Well, we could all learn from the very powerful lessons that you were subjected to.

Gracia Burnham, thank you for sharing your story with us tonight.

G. BURNHAM: Thank you. You've been very kind.


ZAHN: When we come back, coping in captivity, surviving the incredible emotional strain of being held hostage.

And then a little bit later on the show, they can't get enough of Smarty Jones. But there's much more to the horse with the heart of a winner. My exclusive interview with the man who will try to ride Smarty Jones into history, that's coming up.


ZAHN: This week, we have heard some remarkable stories of survival under extraordinary pressure. Before we wrap up our series "Held Captive," we want to explore one the biggest mysteries of all, the human psyche, the coping mechanisms people held hostage can draw upon. How did two U.S. Army pilots shot down in Iraq, a veteran news reporter, a world traveler and a missionary find ways to survive their brutal captivity?

We start with their own words.


DAVID WILLIAMS, FORMER POW: If there's any time that you're going to be executed, it will when you first get caught. And by far, that was the most worrisome time.

G. BURNHAM: I think I just would have started walk out of there and let them shoot me one day. There were many days I said, you know what, I've had it. I'm not going any further.

BOB SIMON, CBS NEWS: We never really expected to get out of it alive, but we weren't dead yet.

MARY QUIN, AUTHOR, "KIDNAPPED IN YEMEN": I had to make a split- second decision. I decided to make a run for it.


ZAHN: With me now is James Turner. He is a psychologist and former hostage negotiator for the U.S. Army, now works as a security consultant.

Welcome. Good to see you.

JIM TURNER, FORMER HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR: Great. Great to be here. Thank you.

ZAHN: Gracia Burnham told us a little bit earlier how scrambled her thoughts became, at one point, looking at the Philippine army who was trying to rescue her as the bad guys because they were shooting at her to try to save her. And, at the same time, it was the bad guys that were feeding her and keeping her alive. She thinks she was very much the victim of the Stockholm Syndrome.

Is that a common thing for captives to endure?

TURNER: Paula, that's not unusual at all.

In fact, it makes sense. It's a self-preservation. You become to associate, to rely, to depend on, and to want to be liked and to like the people who are holding you, because they're the ones who control your immediate fate. And the real risk is with the unknown, the people on the outside who are going to upset this delicate balance.

ZAHN: Mary Quin said one of the more shocking lessons she learned in captivity -- and this is the point where she was used as a human shield -- that she actually had a capacity to kill another human being.

TURNER: Hostage will bring out the depths of people's skills, because there are those who survive, reach down deep inside of themselves and pull out what they need. And are there others who do lay down and literally die.

ZAHN: I want our audience now to listen in to what Bob Simon said about what he went through.


SIMON: I think the worst part, worse than the interrogations, which weren't fun, and the beatings, which weren't fun, and the threats to kill me, which were even less fun, I think ironically the most abiding bad thing was the hunger. It was so bad, so little that I couldn't get -- I could never get my mind off of food. When I would try to bring it to something else, something, whatever, I could keep my mind there just for a couple of minutes maybe and then it would gravitate back to a pastrami sandwich.


ZAHN: So what is this coping mechanism we have that seems to be innate in us?

TURNER: Well, for different individuals, it might be the food, it might be the social isolation.

But people -- it's like saying there's a pink elephant in the room, don't anybody think about it. Well, of course, you think about it.

And so I have heard hostages say, instead of avoiding food, they thought about an elaborate meal and all the details and could even hear the chopping of the celery on the block. This would take days to do and would deal with their hunger. The same way with the isolation. People actually reconstruct. I've heard people of faith talk about reconstructing a Bible in their mind, verse by verse by verse to deal with this incredible strain that people are placed under in these situations.

ZAHN: In spite, though, of the strength of that coping mechanism, pilot Ron Young, I think in a pretty powerful way, described to us how he still deals with some lingering effects of his captivity. Let's listen.


RON YOUNG, FORMER POW: At first, of course, when we came back, I would actually lay down and I could be laying there as you dose off to sleep, where some people have like a nervous twitch and it will kind of shake them awake, I could actually hear a bomb hit beside my head. And all of a sudden -- and people don't understand this -- you react the same way you do in combat.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAHN: Do those nightmares stay with you forever?

TURNER: Well, they'll come and they will go. They'll get better over time.

But then, periodically, they maybe be retriggered by events similar. I've seen veterans who, when a car backfires, will hit the deck immediately years and years after having left a combat zone. So they will get better over time. It's incredibly important to talk to someone about them, and maybe not your family, because sometimes the family's too close.

ZAHN: And, in the end, when you take a look at all of these stories collectively, what is it that we can learn about their triumph?

TURNER: Well, the resilience of the human spirit, that in spite of deprivation, in spite of fear, in spite of not knowing what is going to happen, people put one foot in front of the each other, they get through each day, they start to take care of each other, they even start to reach out to their hostage takers who sometimes are as frightened as they are, especially the young people who are involved in this who have never been in this before.

It is amazing the resilience of the human spirit in spite of all of the things that are facing these people.

ZAHN: Yes, we don't often think about that. Thanks for illuminating us this evening, Jim Turner. Appreciate your time.

TURNER: Thank you.

ZAHN: Coming up next, six decades before the D-Day invasion, the soldiers' story are still the best source of history. You're going to hear some of them when we come back.


ZAHN: This Sunday marks the 60th anniversary of the turning point of World War II. The world has changed a lot since D-Day, especially in the past few years. There are heightened concerns about terrorism, a controversial war in Iraq, and tensions between longtime allies who'll meet in Normandy to remember the bravery of men who fought that day.


ZAHN (voice-over): June 6, 1944, the largest seaborne invasion history's ever seen descended upon a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast. Under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, thousands of allied troops stormed five beaches. It was some of the fiercest fighting in World War II.

The goal? To secure a base in Nazi-occupied France while opening a second front for allied forces in Europe. Casualties were high, 2,500 allied troops killed on that single deadly day. It was a turning point for the war, but another year of hard fighting still lay ahead. Over the years, the battle has come to symbolize the struggle for freedom and democracy.

This weekend, the leaders of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and France, and, for the first time, Germany will converge upon the spot to honor those who gave so much. But this year's observance comes at a time when the long and faithful relationship between France and the U.S. has been tested by disagreement over the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

When he visits France this week, President Bush is expected to use this anniversary to link the battles of World War II to the military operation in Iraq and to call on United States friends and allies for more support in making a Iraq a model of democracy in the Middle East in the hopes of remembering what nations can achieve when they join forces.


ZAHN: History books can tell us what happened on the Normandy shores 60 years ago, but nothing can compare to the stories told by the troops who were actually there.

Historian Douglas Brinkley, director of the Eisenhower Center at University of New Orleans, has co-authored a book of those accounts. "Voices of Valor" presents a firsthand look at D-Day.

And Douglas Brinkley joins us now.

It's an honor to have you with us in person for a change. Welcome.


ZAHN: Take us back to the eve of the D-Day invasion. Weather -- the weather has changed dramatically, and everybody's telling General Eisenhower, don't go, don't do it.

BRINKLEY: Eisenhower made a decision against a lot of advice, realizing that the bad weather was a cover, that the Germans wouldn't be expecting America to come after such bad weather. And he turned it into his advantage.

The disadvantage was for the troops, because they were in these Higgins boats and they would pull into the shore. In the water, they were all getting violently seasick. And then, many the boats, the water was higher in the channel and they couldn't get in the shore. So they had to get off the boat quickly. And many of them drowned just trying to reach the beach. They had all that heavy equipment on and started sinking.

So, in the long run, Eisenhower was right. But for some of the guys we've interviewed through the Eisenhower Center, they lament the fact that the channel was so terrible and they had seasickness before battle. ZAHN: You have had the pleasure of hearing thousands of veterans' stories. Is there one story in particular that personifies the shear guts and the bravery of what those men did that day?

BRINKLEY: Well, there are many. And some have been recounted in Stephen Ambrose's "Band of Brothers" and all.

But there's a fellow named Lem Lamel (ph), who is not a household names. And he's not really in the history books very much. But Lem got on one of those Higgins boats and hit the beach at Omaha and got out. And the second he hit the beach, boom, he gets wounded. And he's bleeding. And in all normal circumstances, you quit.

Instead, he went and scaled the cliffs that were about 100 feet high, got to top, reconnected with some men, took over the German encampments there and then started heading to secure bridges, so when we got up the ravines, we could start setting up bases in Normandy.

And he stumbled upon, peaking through, you know, the hedgerow, he saw about 100 Germans having a little meeting and this huge group of a bunch of ammunition, a depot. And he then realized, here's my one chance here to really save the day. And he put his life on the line, took thermite grenades and tossed them and blew up this great German armed stockpile and hence didn't allow the Germans to mine these fields or to blow up the bridges and allowed our troops to move in and get a stronghold.

ZAHN: And that's just one of the stories of courage from that day.

BRINKLEY: That's just one.

ZAHN: So these soldiers were up against unbelievable odds. In the end, why did these American troops succeed?

BRINKLEY: They believed in democracy and they were soldiers of democracy. And one of the reasons we succeeded at D-Day was because there was a lot of mistakes made, a lot of miscalculations.

But we had trained our soldiers to think on their own. So, if you got -- if you landed at the wrong place or if you encountered a problem, you didn't have to wait to get radioed your instructions. You used your pragmatic old-fashioned American common sense. And that pulled a lot of these guys through.

And it was that thinking, the fact that we don't train, like the Nazis did, our troops to walk in jack-step with boots and think only to the fuhrer and only answer to Rommel. We taught our soldiers in democracy to think for themselves. And they did and they won the day at D-Day.

ZAHN: I know you are heading to Normandy because you will play a role in our coverage over the weekends of these ceremonies.

Just a quick final thought on what you think America should be looking at as we see many of these veterans, who are dying off at a rate of 1,000 a day as they gather in Normandy, probably for the last time, for some of them.

BRINKLEY: Well, you know, it sounds look a cliche, Paula, but to remember that, freedom, there's a cost to it, and when you look at all those white crosses there and realize, it's not just a piece of stone or just a cross. There's a whole family history. There are these dramatic stories behind each face and each person there.

There's a story. And you realize that this greatest generation concept, there's a lot of reality to it. We've had a lot of great generations, Revolutionary War, all.

ZAHN: Sure.

BRINKLEY: But this is a very special group of people. And this is I think the last big time that the United States is going to be able to say a collective thank you.

ZAHN: Well, we thank you for helping history come alive here.

BRINKLEY: Thanks, Paula.

ZAHN: Douglas Brinkley, thanks for spending time with us tonight.

And veterans from both sides of the war have returned to the beaches of Normandy. Now former enemies find themselves facing each other again not as foes, but as fellow soldiers remembering an epic struggle. Here's senior correspondent Jim Bittermann.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the 60 years since members of the 82nd Airborne dropped out of the sky to liberate the town of Sainte Mere-Eglise, it's become something of a D- Day Disneyland. But when you get beyond the souvenir stands and dress-up soldiers, you can find the real drama that took place here. Ask Howard Manoian what it feels like to be a 19-year old corporal dropped far behind enemy lines and alone, and you begin to get a different feel for what war is like.

HOWARD MANOIAN, FORMER CORPORAL, 82ND AIRBORNE: I was fortunate I landed here, in a clear spot. And then when I realized where I was, that was sort of a bad omen, and I said, I have to get out of here.

BITTERMANN: Still, by dawn, the regrouped the members of the 82nd had taken control of Sainte Mere-Eglise. Howard's mission was concise and clear.

MANOIAN: And all I know is, once we get in there, keep going direct east. We're going to be in Berlin, and the war's going to be over.

BITTERMANN (on camera): The town was the first to be liberated in France. It is at today kilometer zero, the starting point of what they call here "The Way of Liberty." But shortly after paratroopers raised the American flag at city hall here, the Germans counterattacked.

German private Rolf De Boeser remembers it well. His unit was awakened and ordered to march 15 miles and retake Sainte Mere-Eglise from the Allies at any cost. Eighteen at the time, when he saw the size of the American forces and the way they had taken out German armor, he knew it wasn't possible.

ROLF DE BOESER, FORMER GERMAN INFANTRYMAN (through translator): No. No. We had nothing against this army, this force. Among all my comrades, we only had rifles, and that's all.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): Old soldiers and younger ones who visit Sainte Mere-Eglise today hang out at the Stop (ph) bar. About 15 years ago, Howard began seeing German vets, his old enemies, among them. Some, like Rolf, are now companions.

DE BOESER (through translator): The bad times are over now. It's better, fortunately.

BITTERMANN: Still, is there any lingering animosity between a pair who might have killed each other 60 years ago?

MANOIAN: They're shooting at us. I shoot back. That's it. No feelings, you know?

BITTERMANN (on camera): Nothing personal.

MANOIAN: Nothing personal.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): Today the old soldiers who were on different sides of a world war pose and sign autographs in front of the Stop bar, answering the questions. But the one Howard says he'll never answer is, How many Germans did you kill?


ZAHN: That was Jim Bittermann reporting from Sainte Mere-Eglise, France.

Coming up next: The violent suppression of the democracy movement in Beijing's Tiananmen Square 15 years ago brought some change but hasn't lessened the pain. And later: He is hot to trot at Belmont this weekend. The horse from the wrong side of the tracks could become racing royalty.


ZAHN: And welcome back. Tomorrow Smarty Jones could make history by winning the Belmont Stakes. Tonight, the man who will ride him, Stewart Elliott, speaks exclusively with me. We're going to hear about the team's unusual rise to the top a little bit later on in the program.

But first, the anniversary of a day that shocked and saddened much of the world. Fifteen years ago, a call for freedom and democracy in China turned into violence and bloodshed. On this day in 1989, a military crackdown killed hundreds of protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. As Mike Chinoy reports, it's a day that will not be forgotten, despite China's efforts.


MIKE CHINOY, CNN SENIOR ASIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What is it about Tiananmen Square? Why do the images and the story retain such enduring power, enough power that the subject remains taboo in China, and that even on this 15th anniversary, the event is still remembered.

It was partly the times. Hopeful students who occupied the heart of Beijing in the spring of 1989 represented the first stirrings of the wind of change that was to sweep through the communist world later that year. It was partly the shattering of so many stereotypes about China, a nation so regimented by Mao Zedong's communist revolution that, to many, it was a revelation that the desire for freedom had not only not been extinguished but burned as fiercely as anywhere else.

In many ways, Tiananmen represented a revolutionary challenge to China's communist hard-liners. And the way it was witnessed around world represented a revolution, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm being told that the government officials are coming into the CNN control room now...

CHINOY: When the Chinese authorities pulled CNN off the air as martial law was declared, it underscored the arrival a new phenomenon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll have to shut it down.

CHINOY: The first time an epic event in what had been for many a distant, impenetrable nation was beamed live: 24-hour-a-day global TV news had arrived. And of course, it was the bloody, horrifying end, the People's Liberation Army occupying Tiananmen Square.


CHINOY: Gunning down unarmed protesters, toppling the "Goddess of Democracy." Against the awesome apparatus of state repression, the demonstrators never had a chance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see that guy?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a guy (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in front of a tank.

CHINOY: And yet, one man gamely stood his ground, a man in front of the tank, his identity and fate still unknown. But that gesture will go down as one of the great images of the 20th century, an enduring tribute to the power of the human spirit to confront the power of the state. And even though his cause failed, that autumn the Berlin Wall fell, communist regimes of Eastern Europe collapsed. The Soviet Union would soon follow. There was a sense that the Beijing movement helped to light a fuse that would one day come back to explode in China.

(on camera): But in that, those of us who covered Tiananmen were wrong. The Chinese Communist Party didn't collapse.

(voice-over): Tiananmen remains so sensitive that even today, all public discussion is banned. Mothers who lost their sons, like Fing Zelin (ph), can't mourn in public, their demands the tragedy be reexamined rebuffed. For the Communist Party, reversing the verdict on Tiananmen would like pulling a bandage off of a still unhealed wound because, in the end, what Tiananmen showed was that the party still rules by repression and by fear. And that's why -- well, for ordinary Chinese -- Tiananmen 15 years on is largely forgotten. For those in the ruling elite and for many of those who were there, the ghosts have not gone away.


ZAHN: That was Mike Chinoy reporting from Hong Kong.

Now, while China has changed since the massacre, some things remain the same. In particular, censorship. Chinese authorities have blacked out almost every CNN story on the Tiananmen anniversary. Here's what people in China saw on CNN International today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Beijing's bloody crackdown on the 1989 student-led protests. One of the former student leaders of the demonstration...


ZAHN: Censorship alive and well and China. All but one of the stories filed by CNN reporters on the Tiananmen crackdown was censored. Sometimes it was the audio, sometimes the video, but when it was a very specific story on military tactics used, both of those sources were blacked out.

This weekend, a horse that has become a hero could win racing's Triple Crown, but not without his rider. An exclusive interview with Smarty Jones's jockey, Stewart Elliott, when we come back.


ZAHN: Last summer, a movie reminded all of us of a time when it seemed like bad news was everywhere people looked, unless they looked at the racetrack. It was the story of Seabiscuit, the misfit horse and the unlikely people who turned him into a champion and a national sensation. Well, tomorrow, in our own uncertain and troubled times, the nation's eyes will once again be on a racetrack. At the Belmont stakes, a horse named Smarty Jones gets his chance to become a legend to enter horse-racing immortality by winning the Triple Crown.


(voice-over): Just two months ago, not many people had heard of Smarty Jones and his jockey, Stewart Elliott. The horse from the wrong side of the tracks and world-weary joke were unknown but also undefeated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they're off!

ZAHN: Then came the Run for the Roses, the Kentucky Derby, and a shot at history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And here is the first undefeated winner of the Kentucky Derby since Seattle Slew in 1977! Smarty Jones has done it!

ZAHN: The 3-year-old thoroughbred won the first of three jewels in horse racing's legendary Triple Crown. Next up, the Preakness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's pulling away! He's pulling away to win impeccably here!

ZAHN: Smarty Jones didn't just win, he demolished the competition by a record 11-and-a-half lengths.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This Philadelphia story continues!

ZAHN: Capturing his second jewel, becoming a household word and setting the stage for a possible Triple Crown win at Saturday's Belmont Stakes. In its 100-year history, only 11 horses have ever won the Triple Crown. The last, Affirmed, won in 1978. Now only a mile- and-a-half of track stands between Smarty Jones and immortality. It's a long run by racing standards, but it's only a fraction of the distance both horse and jockey have already endured. Bred in Pennsylvania, Smarty Jones has had to outrun humble roots. His owner, Roy Chapman, a former car salesman turned horse breeder, almost quit the business because of health problems. Bob Cannon (ph), the man who helped breed Smarty Jones and would have been his first trainer, was murdered in 2001. So it was left up to trainer John Servis, who had never run a horse in the Kentucky Derby, to recognize and hone the thoroughbred's raw talent.

JOHN SERVIS, SMARTY JONES'S TRAINER: Firstly, he had brilliant speeds. I mean, brilliant speeds. He's very athletic. I felt it -- you know, we could -- we could put him on the Derby trail, that he was worthy of that.

ZAHN: But in 2002, before he even ran his first race, Smarty Jones almost lost it all after rearing in a starting gate and shattering his skull.

Jockey Stewart Elliott has also overcome obstacles. The high school dropout turned jockey has won more than 3,000 races, but also waged a long battle with alcohol. Four years ago, he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, and despite his talent, his career languished at second-tier tracks.

SERVIS: He rides as good as anybody anywhere, and the fact that he's at Philadelphia Park, you know, that -- that's -- that was his choice for reasons that I think at the time were out of his control. You know, now everybody's starting to see how good he really is.

ZAHN: Now four years sober, Elliott got his career back on track, and in November rode the horse now called the "Philly Flash" to his first victory. If Smarty Jones wins tomorrow at Belmont, he will join the legendary Seattle Slew as only the second undefeated Triple Crown champion in history, an extraordinary ending to a story about a man and a horse who have both already beaten the odds.

SERVIS: You know, we're not big-time guys, myself, Stewart, you know, the whole team. We're just -- you know, we're just humble guys from Philadelphia. And I think with the timing of, you know, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and -- I think people are looking forward to a good story and, hopefully, a happy ending.


ZAHN: Yes, we are. Earlier today, jockey Stewart Elliott joined me for this exclusive interview.


Thanks so much for joining us.


ZAHN: So do you think you're going to win tomorrow?

ELLIOTT: I think I have a very good chance.

ZAHN: Tell me why.

ELLIOTT: Well, he's a great horse. You know, he's undefeated. He's done everything we've asked him to do. And I think his chances look very good.

ZAHN: If he wins tomorrow, he will take home a record-breaking $5 million purse. How much pressure do you feel?

ELLIOTT: Well, I mean, there's been pressure all along, and I think I've gotten used to it. So I feel pretty good about it, really.

ZAHN: You said the most beautiful thing. You once talked about dreaming your whole lifetime about being linked up with a horse like Smarty Jones, and you say now that you've been sober for four years, you're glad you're clear-headed enough to appreciate what's been given to you. How hard has it been for you physically to get to the position of strength you're in right now?

ELLIOTT: You know, you do your job every day. You're working hard. You're riding horses. And then along comes a nice horse like Smarty Jones, and he just -- you know, all along, he's gotten better and he's kept winning. And you know, it's not really -- it's not really hard. It's just -- you know, I'm just very appreciative to have a horse like this.

ZAHN: What's the magic of Smarty Jones? What makes him so special as a racehorse?

ELLIOTT: Well, he's very talented. And you know, now that -- you know, he's -- he has always had a lot of speed. And now that he's learned to control that speed and go on and run in the longer races, which has gotten him where he is now, and you know, he -- besides being talented, he has -- he has everything it takes. He has the heart. He has the desire to win. He loves what he does. And he's good at it.

ZAHN: And we know Smarty Jones has been up against some pretty stark physical challenges. You have, as well. You had a period of time not only were battling alcoholism, but you were battling your weight. And you ballooned up from 115 pounds to 135 pounds, and you were on the cycle of binge-and-purge diets and spending a lot of time in sauna to try to take the weight off. What kind of toll has it taken on you physically to be in the form you're in today?

ELLIOTT: When I first started riding, I was young. I was naturally light at that time. And you know, being young, never having had to deal with the weight, I guess it's kind of like a learning process. And the longer you go, the longer you try different things -- what works, what doesn't work. And eventually, you know, you learn.

ZAHN: Now, is there any ritual you're going to do tonight, in advance of the race, that you think might bring you good luck on the track tomorrow?

ELLIOTT: Well, I'm going to try to get some rest and be well rested. I think, you know, in order to ride good, you have to feel good. And that's my main concern, just being well rested and feeling good.

ZAHN: Well, you will have the eyes of the nation on you tomorrow. Thanks so much for spending some time with us. We know that you've got a lot of demands on your schedule!

ELLIOTT: Thank you.


ZAHN: And we wish him a lot of luck. Smarty Jones's home town is definitely in a party mood already. We're going to show you the hoopla over Philadelphia's biggest hero since Rocky when we come back.


ZAHN: And we're back. The people of Philadelphia are hoping Smarty Jones, their own pride and joy, can bring the City of Brotherly Love something that it has been missing for a long, long time, a championship. Bruce Burkhardt reports on Smarty mania.


BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everyone's snapping up T-shirts. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

BURKHARDT: A governor declares Saturday Smarty Jones Day in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: And I encourage all of our citizens to cheer for this courageous and feisty little chestnut horse with the huge heart as he circles the track at Belmont.

BURKHARDT: And on Philadelphia's sports talk radio, for weeks it's been topic No. 1, even when their beloved Flyers of the NHL were in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

TRIPP ROGERS, SPORTS TALK RADIO HOST: Everybody wanted to talk about Smarty Jones. Everybody wanted to talk about, you know, winning the Triple Crown. Everybody...

BURKHARDT (on camera): Even though the Flyers are in the playoffs?

ROGERS: Even though the Flyers are in the playoffs.

BURKHARDT (voice-over): It is just a horse, you might be saying, but -- and this is important -- it is a horse from Philadelphia.

(on camera): But Philadelphia, this isn't horse country.



BURKHARDT (voice-over): Larry Bowa, manager of the Phillies and longtime Philadelphian, is well aware of how this town is thirsting for a champion.

BOWA: Maybe he can break that jinx that's involved in all of -- baseball, football, hockey, basketball. Maybe he's just going to break that jinx and let everybody be a champion.

BURKHARDT (on camera): And jump out to the front.

(voice-over): Twenty-one years without a champion, more than any other city with four major sports. But there's more to it than that. In a town that prides itself on its working-class image, Smarty is seen as more blue-collar than bluegrass.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He looks like ordinary horse that's coming out and doing it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's pretty happy with his ears. You know, his ears -- when he's running real fast, his ears kind of, like -- kind of flap around.

ROGERS: People have made comparisons to "Rocky," and I suppose it is, but this is a real-life Rocky story. BURKHARDT (on camera): Of course, the references to "Rocky" are irresistible. But Smarty, as far as we know, never ran up these steps for a workout. I think Smarty is smarter than Rocky.

(voice-over): But this is where Smarty does work out. And this, too, is part of the story. Philadelphia Park is kind of the minor leagues in the horse racing world.

KEITH JONES, PHILADELPHIA PARK: Even to consider here that you would have, A, a horse that would even campaign in the Triple Crown races -- I mean, that's kind of unheard of, to begin with.

BURKHARDT: So Smarty, the pressure is on. The entire city is counting on you to deliver that Rocky-style knockout punch. Bruce Burkhardt, CNN, Philadelphia.


ZAHN: Even New Yorkers will be rooting for Smarty tomorrow. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: And that's it for us tonight. Thanks so much for joining us. Have a great weekend.


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