Weekend Edition Sunday

Conceived as a cross between a Sunday newspaper and CBS' Sunday Morning with Charles KuraltWeekend Edition Sunday features interviews with newsmakers, artists, scientists, politicians, musicians, writers, theologians and historians. The program has covered news events from Nelson Mandela's 1990 release from a South African prison to the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Weekend Edition Sunday debuted on January 18, 1987, with host Susan Stamberg. Two years later, Liane Hansen took over the host chair, a position she held for 22 years. In that time, Hansen interviewed movers and shakers in politics, science, business and the arts. Her reporting travels took her from the slums of Cairo to the iron mines of Michigan's Upper Peninsula; from the oyster beds on the bayou in Houma, La., to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park; and from the kitchens of Colonial Williamsburg, Va., to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. In the fall of 2011, NPR National Desk Reporter Audie Cornish began hosting the show.

Every week listeners tune in to hear a unique blend of news, features and the regularly scheduled puzzle segment with Puzzlemaster Will Shortz, the crossword puzzle editor of The New York Times.

Weekend Edition Sunday is heard on NPR Member stations across the United States and around the globe via NPR Worldwide. The conversation between the audience and the program staff continues throughout the social media world.

Many climbers are currently trapped on Mount Everest following the earthquake in Nepal. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with Outside Magazine Senior Editor Grayson Schaffer about the rescue efforts.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

When a Maryland family let their children walk home alone from a park, it drew the authorities' attention and helped spark a national conversation. Two moms with differing views weigh in.

What kind of parent are you if you let your child walk home alone? What if you won't let your kids out of your sight?

Last December, parents in Silver Spring, Md., allowed their two children — 6 and 10 years old — to walk home from a park about a mile away. Someone reported seeing unsupervised kids, the police picked them up and then the parents found themselves under investigation for neglect by their local Child Protective Services (CPS) agency.

The parents, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv, say they believe in "free range" parenting. They want to instill self-reliance and independence in their children. But now they are under investigation again. Earlier this month, police picked up the children as they walked home from a park and took them to the CPS offices. They were returned home hours later.

The case has sparked a debate about how much supervision children need and how to balance independence and safety. NPR's Rachel Martin spoke with two mothers with differing views. Katie Arnold, a freelance journalist in Santa Fe, N.M., writes a blog on raising adventurous kids for Outside magazine. Denene Millner is a freelance journalist in Atlanta who writes a parenting blog called My Brown Baby.

Arnold says she liked Danielle Meitiv's idea that her kids would gradually increase their "radius," going farther from home. "I thought she had a very measured, practical approach," Arnold says.

Millner sees it differently. "I thought it was a bit much to let a 6-year-old and a 10-year-old walk a mile and play in the park for an hour by themselves without an adult," she says.


Interview Highlights

On how they balance their own kids' freedom and safety

Millner: I have three children and it took me years to trust that other people wouldn't bother my children ... It's not about the kids to me. It's about the outside world and what the possibilities are ...

My daughters are 12 and 15 and we live across the street in Atlanta from Piedmont Park, and I don't let them to go to the park by themselves. They can, once we're in the park, go off and ride their bicycles for a period of time without me being on their heels. But I live in the epicenter of a big, urban city.

Arnold: My two daughters are 4 and 6, so we're not at that stage where I'm comfortable at all leaving them in a park and having them walk home. I certainly would like to think that is possible as they grow up. We also live in Santa Fe, we know many people. I grew up in a town in New Jersey, with a suburb, and we had free range and that's where I'm coming from as a mother — wanting to give my children the same freedoms that I had, but acknowledging that it's a different landscape we live in.

On what's changed since they were children

Arnold: I think our neighborhoods have changed; I think maybe we've dispersed more. In the neighborhood I grew up in, there was kind of a protective posse of kids. And there's some safety in that.

Millner: I grew up in Long Island, N.Y., and our neighbors looked out for the kids. Now the neighbors call the cops on your kids! ...

I think it's disingenuous for people to think that children are no longer latchkey kids. There are plenty of kids whose parents work during the day, who may have to walk home from school and may be a little bit younger than we want them to be ... It's one thing to talk about this, sort of, "My kid is a free-range kid and I want my child to have independence," but I think we can't forget the fact that there are plenty of parents out there who really have no other choice. It's a reality.

On parenting's gray areas

Arnold: I take my daughter skiing, my older daughter. There was one moment when we were skiing and she wanted to zigzag through the trees, and I'm just sort of watching her from behind, yelling, "Slow down!" There's that moment where you realize you're just going to always be a little bit behind them yelling, "Slow down." And that's kind of what childhood and growing up is about.

Millner: I think my daughter, my 15-year-old, who ... is in this sort of sweet-16 party part of her life now, may think I am a little too hands-on. Her father and I have had to back off just a little bit and allow her to go out and be social with her friends without the watchful eye of her parents, and this is new for us. So we have eased up a little bit. But I don't allow house parties because I don't, again, trust other people.

Arnold: I really appreciate what you're saying, because I anticipate that socially, I'm going to be a little bit stricter than I am in the outdoor world. We were given great liberties in the fresh air. But my parents were quite strict ... I think we go, in many cases, with what we know and what we knew as children. And that shapes us so much as parents.

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Aerial photos of the 1975 crash of the first Operation Babylift flight were ...
In 1975, the first flight of orphans out of Vietnam made a crash landing, and many died. Forty years later, some of the survivors have reconnected, helping to lessen their lingering grief.

Forty years ago this month, North Vietnamese troops captured Saigon. The long war in Vietnam was coming to an end.

In the midst of the political fallout, the U.S. government announced an unusual plan to get thousands of displaced Vietnamese children out of the country. President Ford directed that money from a special foreign aid children's fund be made available to fly 2,000 South Vietnamese orphans to the United States.

It came to be known as Operation Babylift. The first plane to leave as part of that mission took off on April 4, 1975, just a few weeks before the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War. But shortly into the flight, a malfunction forced the pilot, Captain Dennis "Bud" Traynor, to crash land the C-5 cargo plane into a nearby rice paddy.

This week on For the Record: looking back at Operation Baby Lift. We hear from three people who were on that first flight.

Col. Bud Traynor, pilot

Traynor was charged with carrying hundreds of children, many under age 2 and so small, they had to be carried onto the plane.

"We bucket-brigade-loaded the children right up the stairs into the airplane," Traynor remembers.

When the plane's cargo doors malfunctioned they blew out, taking with them a chunk of the tail. There was a rapid decompression inside the aircraft.

"It cut all control cables to the tail," explains Traynor. "So I'm pulling and pulling and pulling, and my nose is going down further and further and we're going faster and faster and faster, and I can't figure this out."

Traynor managed to stabilize the plane and turn it back toward Vietnam. After that, his only option was a crash landing. The impact was fierce.

"We came to a stop and I thought to myself 'I'm alive,' " he says. "And so I undid my lap belt, fell to the ceiling, rolled open the side window, and stepped out and saw the wings burning. And I thought 'oh no, that's the rest of the airplane.' "

Out of the more than 300 people on board, the death toll included 78 children and about 50 adults, including Air Force personnel. More than 170 survived.

"So we're on the plus side of luck there, but unfortunately those people who were downstairs didn't have much of a chance."

Col. Regina Aune, chief medical officer

"I will never forget that day," says Aune. "It's as fresh to me right now as it was the day it happened."

Children were loaded two to each seat in the troop compartment, she says, but there wasn't room for everyone. Those who didn't fit would make the trip in the cargo area.

"We put them in little groups and we secured them to the floor of the aircraft, with cargo tie-down straps and litter straps and blankets and pillows and whatever we could to kind of secure them to the floor," Aune says.

When the cargo doors blew out, Aune could see the South China Sea through the hole in the back. When the plane crashed, the impact split the aircraft apart.

"I remember thinking, this plane is crashing, and I am going to live through it, and I have to figure out how to take care of everybody once we finally come to a complete stop," Aune says.

The cargo compartment carrying children, civilians and crew members was crushed, but the troop compartment was largely intact. Aune and other crew members carried the surviving children off what was left of the plane.

Traynor and Aune were honored by the military for their actions that day. They both stayed in the Air Force, built careers and families. Still, each felt pulled back to 1975, wondering what happened to the children who had survived.

Aune tried trace the children, but there was no passenger manifest and all received new names when they eventually reached the United States.

Aryn Lockhart, born in Vinh Long, Vietnam, and raised primarily in Northern Virginia

Lockhart was one of the children aboard that flight — at least, that's what she believes, based on her research and what her adoptive parents told her about her origins. As she did more digging, she found a news article about Aune.

More than 20 years after the crash, Lockhart called Aune.

"And then she told me who she was, and it was just overwhelming," Aune says. "I was just speechless. ... I remember thinking I must have held Aryn in my arms, because every single one of those babies that was upstairs I had held in my arms for just a fleeting minute. ... If Aryn was upstairs, then I held her, and now she's talking to me as an adult. It's hard to explain how overwhelming that was for me."

Aune was able to help fill in the gaps of that day for Lockhart. After that phone call, their lives became intertwined; they even traveled together to Vietnam and returned to the crash site.

Traynor was also trying to make his own connections, and with social media, he saw an opportunity. He started a Facebook group for survivors of the C-5 crash, and soon more than 200 survivors and family members had joined. They now hold reunions.

Aune and Lockhart have both been to these reunions. Reconnecting with other survivors has helped Aune move past some of the trauma of that day.

"When I listened to them talk about their stories — and believe me, they're not all Cinderella stories — what I sensed was their gratitude, their gratefulness for being alive and for being given the opportunities they were given," she says. "So that helped temper some of that sadness and sorrow and grief."

Aryn Lockhart and Col. Regina Aune also wrote a book about their experience, Operation Babylift: Mission Accomplished.


Portions of the audio for this story were provided by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

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