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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  May 27, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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on the broadcast tonight -- ♪ -- a day to remember on this memorial day. somber ceremonies honor those who have fought and died for our country. at arlington, a strong message from the president to a nation still at war. fire at sea. a big scare aboard a cruise ship in the caribbean and another blow to an industry still reeling from a series of high profile accidents. the growing crisis overseas tonight. the civil war in syria now spilling over into neighboring countries. and a surprise visit for the syrian rebels from senator john mccain. and extreme weather. 85 million americans at risk of severe storms, and in some places up to three feet of snow on the ground. plus, making a difference for the greatest generation. "nightly news" begins now.
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good evening. i'm natalie morales in for brian on this memorial day. while many think of it as the unofficial start of summer, this holiday is about remembering our military service members, those who have fallen and those who continue to fight to defend our freedoms. the president urged all americans not to forget our nation is still at war as he laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns at arlington national cemetery. while troop withdrawal is under way in afghanistan after nearly 12 years at war, 60,000 service members remain there still, risking their lives. nbc's john yang begins our coverage tonight. >> reporter: at arlington national cemetery, president obama laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns.
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with first lady michelle obama the president paused at section 60, the final resting place of fallen warriors from iraq and afghanistan, conflicts that for many may seem distant. >> not all americans may see or fully grasp the depths of sacrifice, the profound costs that are made in our name. >> reporter: at the world war ii memorial in washington, names of the fallen were very personal to this veteran of d-day. >> i am so proud to have served with them. >> ready, aim, fire. >> reporter: outside atlanta, honors for the groundbreaking
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tuskeegee airmen. >> it's an opportunity to express our gratitude for those fallen heroes and for those who continue in uniform. >> reporter: in new york, there were ceremonies on the u.s.s. intrepid and in the shadow of the newly built freedom tower at the 9/11 memorial site. for many americans it was a day of flyovers, marching bands, scouts, and dogs decked out in red, white, and blue. here outside chicago, this unofficial first day of summer is overcast and a little soggy, but it's not dampening the spirits as they mark the day with a parade. >> anything less than torrential downpour, we'll take it and we love it. >> nice activity to do with the kids and show them, you know, the spirit of the country. >> reporter: just one of the many ways americans paused today to celebrate and remember. john yang, nbc news, river forest, illinois. today marks a new beginning for a lot of folks along the jersey shore which still has a long way to go after suffering a devastating hit from hurricane sandy.
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seven months later, the damage is still overwhelming but most of the beaches and the boardwalks are open just in time for the summer tourism season they count on most. nbc's stephanie gosk is on the boardwalk in seaside heights. good evening. >> reporter: good evening. there wasn't a board left on the boardwalk after the storm, not a business undamaged. seaside heights was one of the worst affected communities along the shore. today, 22 of 23 boardwalks are open. it's beginning to look a little bit like summer. for a moment today with the sun shining, food frying, and crowds growing, seaside heights almost felt the same. >> it's a beautiful today, a great day to be out. >> reporter: after the worst storm in new jersey's history, restoring boardwalks and businesses in time for the
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summer became the state's number one priority. the jersey shore has 130 miles of coastline, drawing 59 million tourists a year and bringing in $19 billion. in the days after sandy it was hard to imagine any kind of summer season at all until the rebuilding began. from the destruction rose a new boardwalk 16 blocks long. new store fronts appear mixed in among the few old ones lucky enough to survive like this family-owned clam bar, a seaside institution. >> i have generations come back for the clams and the sausage. their fathers brought them here and now they are grown men bringing their kids here. >> reporter: david moore's wife runs the pretzel stand. their twin daughters are about to head off to college. >> my kids have grown up down here. the whole family works. it means a lot to have people coming back. >> reporter: the rebuilding of the boardwalk only tells part of the story. blocks from the beaches, for thousands of homeowners recovery is slow. brian donahue has surfed the
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jersey shore since he was 15. now he works as a reporter for the local paper. >> this weekend has highlighted the differences between places where the recovery has jettisoned forward with amazing speed and the places where it has absolutely completely stalled. >> reporter: on the boardwalk, the frustrations of the winter seem to be on hold for a day. the recovery is not over but the crowds are a good start. president obama will be visiting the jersey shore tomorrow. governor chris christie gave the president a tour of the destruction in the days after sandy. now the governor will have a chance to show off some of the rebuilding. natalie? >> stephanie gosk in seaside heights, new jersey. thank you, stephanie. it was one week ago tonight when the city of moore, oklahoma took a direct hit from an ef5 tornado which killed 24 people and injured at least 377 more. it destroyed thousands of homes and businesses and as the people of moore continue to grieve, they are thinking about the monumental task of rebuilding. nbc's charles hadlock is there. >> reporter: the first thing retired army sergeant troy gamble searched for in what's left of his house was his
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american flag. >> we're in combat. this is a war zone. that flag's got to go up. >> reporter: the flag had flown with him in the gulf war, in iraq, and afghanistan, and now over moore, oklahoma, where for four days he's searched for another cherished army memento. across town, an army of volunteers from nearby churchess fanned out to help people they had never met. >> if i can be a part of helping to ease someone's burdens, i'm grateful to do that. >> these people who don't have to be here are unbelievable blessing. >> reporter: president obama visited moore on sunday, touring the neighborhood near the devastated plaza towers elementary school where seven children died. >> people here pride themselves
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on the oklahoma standard. you know, what governor fallin called working on disasters like this and coming out stronger on the other side. ♪ jesus loves me ♪ this i know >> reporter: thousands packed a memorial service sunday night and listened to the song students had sung as the tornado barrelled toward briarwood elementary. this teacher recalls how she tried to remain calm after seeing tornado coverage on the internet. >> i knew i had to do something more than i had ever practiced before. >> reporter: she gathered the children under desks and tables. >> i heard the roar of the tornado. i just didn't want them to hear it, so i told them to keep singing louder. ♪ the bible tells me so [ applause ] >> reporter: everyone at the school got out alive. >> yes! >> reporter: back at sergeant gamble's house --
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>> oh, my god! >> reporter: he and his friend lisa connor finally found his military badge. >> we are resilient people. you can kick us, beat us. we are always going to get back up. >> reporter: a small victory in a sea of misery. president obama promised fema would be here until all the work is done. as you can see a lot of people here in moore aren't waiting on fema. >> all right. charles hadlock in moore, oklahoma. thank you, charles. there was another scare aboard a cruise ship at sea early this morning. a fire broke out aboard the royal caribbean grandeur of the seas on its way from baltimore to the bahamas. no one was seriously hurt. the cruise line says the ship still has power. but it's another black eye for an industry still reeling from a series of high profile mishaps. we get our report tonight from nbc's mark potter. >> reporter: with fire damage clearly visible the royal caribbean international grandeur of the seas arrived for inspection in freeport, the bahamas, where it remains tonight. a fire broke out on the third deck of the aft mooring area and then spread to the fourth deck. it was put out in two hours.
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in a written statement the cruise line said afterward, all 2,224 guests and 796 crew have been accounted for. there have been no injuries of guests or crew reported. the newly renovated grandeur of the seas is based in baltimore and was on a seven-night cruise to florida and the bahamas. as seen in this cell phone video, when the fire broke out off west in the bahamas the captain ordered all passengers to emergency assembly stations although no one was evacuated. the national transportation safety board and the u.s. coast guard are joining the bahamas in trying to determine the cause of the fire. >> reporter: it comes on the heels of several other cruise ship incidents. most notably the carnival triumph which lost power in february and was adrift for days without working toilets. royal caribbean international says it will return all of its passengers on the grandeur to baltimore tomorrow. mark potter, nbc news, miami. now to a growing crisis in the middle east. it has been a bloody 48 hours from baghdad to beirut.
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syria's civil war is now spilling over into neighboring countries. we also learned today about a surprise visit by senator john mccain who secretly made his way inside syria to meet with the rebels. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel is in beirut tonight. he joins us with the latest from there. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, natalie. it was a particularly horrible day in baghdad. there were at least 15 explosions in central baghdad, the majority of them car bombings. most of them in poor shiite neighborhoods. at least 50 people were killed according to medical officials. this is a sign -- just the latest sign that the civil war in iraq is coming back despite so much american sacrifice. there is violence spreading across the region. in iraq, here in lebanon. of course in syria.
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syria is at the center of all of this. the war in that country is dragging all of the countries around it back into violence. then today, senator john mccain put himself right in the eye of the storm. he made a brief secret trip into syria. he crossed in from turkey. he was accompanied by a free syrian army commander. he just stayed on the ground for a few hours. senator mccain wants more done to help the opposition. he wants a no-fly zone. he wants the rebels to be armed. today that looked a little more possible. the european union announced it was lifting an arms embargo making it legal for european nations to give or sell weapons to the syrian opposition. natalie? >> richard engel covering it on all fronts in beirut. thank you. tonight, wide open spaces and worrying signs at the most popular vacation spots for american families. later, making a difference with high honors and a time to reflect for our nation's greatest generation.
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memorial day signals the kick-off for tourist season in the national park system. but from the shenandoah in the east to the haleakala in hawaii, visitors may discover the nation's parks are showing signs of wear and tear and are in real need of money and tlc. here's nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: from death valley to glacier, yellowstone to the everglades, few places hold the nation's imagination and awe like its national parks. >> especially getting young kids to come. >> yes. >> and make sure they know how important it is. >> reporter: lying between maine and hawaii, 401 parks and monuments, battlefields, volcanos, protected coasts make up the national park system. this year they will host some 280 million visitors but park advocates say for years the parks have been underfunded. now some are in trouble. superintendent dan kimball runs
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everglades national park. >> i'm very concerned about sustaining the effort to restore this place. that's our number one mission. >> reporter: despite rising costs the parks service budget has been flat for several years and now has lost another $153 million in the sequester. across the entire parks system the backlog of work that needs to be done to maintain the parks now totals $11 billion. to make ends meet, 900 park service jobs have gone unfilled including rangers. another 1,000 seasonal jobs have been cut. park police officers furloughed three days each until june 1. some park entrances go unmanned and facilities that need work haven't been touched in years. mark winsler is with the park conversation association. when americans bring families to the parks what will they find? >> they may find a crumbling
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road, a visitor center that need as facelift. they may not find a ranger. >> reporter: we need rangers. >> we need rangers. >> reporter: in three years the parks service will celebrate its 100th birthday. director john jarvis believes congress should take note. >> doesn't matter if you are a democrat or a republican. the american public love the national parks. the american public expect the national parks to be taken care of. >> reporter: they are the envy of the world. an american treasure showing a little tarnish. tom costello, nbc news, yellowstone national park. >> we are back in a moment with extreme weather across the country tonight. would you believe three feet of snow on the ground and it's almost june?
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the extreme weather continues across the middle of the country. they are bracing for the possibility of more scenes like this one in texas where three
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people were killed and hundreds were rescued from flash floods over the weekend. take a look at this. we are almost into june but parts of upstate new york and vermont are covered in up to three feet of snow. meantime the threat of tornadoes returns this week for parts of the country including the oklahoma city area. weather channel meteorologist kelly cass is monitoring it all for us tonight. kelly, good evening. >> good evening, natalie. i'm happy to say temperatures will be warming up in the northeast. that should take care of the snow that accumulated in the higher elevations of the northeast. as you mentioned we expect severe weather in the middle of the country. in fact, storms are already firing up. we have seen flooding in iowa with several inches of rain there and now a tornado watch in nebraska and kansas until midnight tonight. here's a look at the threat for tuesday. it extends from pittsburgh to chicago into texas. it does include portions of
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oklahoma. unfortunately it only gets worse on wednesday. this is when we think we'll have the peak of the severe weather. we are talking about a possible tornado outbreak. look at that. it puts oklahoma city and moore right in the middle of all of that. we urge people to have a plan. know where to go if you are placed under a tornado warning. lowest level of the home away from windows. the threat extends into the great lakes and into thursday. we'll have to watch out across portions of the east as well. looks like the severe weather will be a problem through the next couple of days. natalie? >> going to be a busy week ahead. kelly cass at the weather channel. thanks so much. when we come back, making a difference with a round trip that honors a lifetime of service and sacrifice.
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our final story on this memorial day is about a high honor for some of our nation's aging veterans, and how one special organization is making a difference for some of the greatest generation. tonight our military analyst retired army colonel jack jacobs, himself a recipient of the medal of honor, has our report with a group of vets from dayton, ohio. >> reporter: 35 veterans bound for the nation's capital. most of them for the very first time. >> you want to talk about old
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times? >> yeah! >> reporter: this trip is one of many organized by the honor flight network every year. sending more than 10,000 older veterans to the washington memorials honoring their service and their sacrifice. [ applause ] >> reporter: each is paired with a guardian and nurses are on hand. >> ice packs, a hug, just let us know and -- >> i need one. >> oh! [ laughter ] >> reporter: after landing, the men and women spend time at the world war ii, vietnam, and korean war memorials, sharing stories about their service. >> prisoner of war in germany. >> i came home from okinawa. it took me three weeks to hitchhike home. >> it brings back memories. >> reporter: the memories of those lost. >> it's hard to explain. i think about all the guys that never get to see it. >> reporter: and that uncertainty of when or if they ever return home. >> i was married and had one little girl i had never seen. that's why i came home. >> reporter: on this day past
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and present meet. for marine james roberts, seeing the iconic iwo jima memorial cast in bronze has special meaning because he was there. >> i was within one quarter of a mile when they raised that flag. i was covering for the troops to protect them from the japanese so they wouldn't come in and ambush them while they were raising that up. >> can everybody wave their right hand? for the navy guys, it's over on this side. [ laughter ] >> reporter: years of wisdom peppered with wit. >> you're looking good for your age. >> so are you. >> reporter: there is a sense of brotherhood among the men who began today's journey as strangers. remembering themselves as young men and women who set out into the unknown. for their country, risked
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everything. >> talk about us being the best generation. we just did what we had to do. we weren't heroes. >> reporter: at arlington national cemetery, the changing of the guard and, for some, the turning of the page. >> it's been a marvelous experience. one that i will never forget. >> it's a way to put behind you some of what you haven't yet, some of the experiences that you want to forget. >> reporter: colonel jack jacobs, nbc news, washington. >> and our thanks to those who served and who continue to serve our country. that is our broadcast for this monday night. thank you for being with us. i'm natalie morales in tonight for brian. he'll be right back here with you tomorrow evening. he'll be right back here with you tomorrow evening. have a good night. -- captions by vitac --
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now. good evening and thanks for joining us on this memorial day. i'm raj mathai. >> and i'm jessica aguirre. we begin with a violent weekend for an already exhausted san jose police department. three more homicides last night putting the year on pace with last year's homicide numbers. the latest homicide happened around 10:00 last night. one man was shot in the chest. the second one happened on
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rhinehart drive. nbc bay area joins us with the details. police are still looking for the shooters? >> reporter: they are. this was a double homicide here. right now the friends of the two victims are gathering at the scene paying their respects. councilman says we can hire more officers by tweaking the fire department. the blood shed began just after 6:00. four hours later officers had to scramble to haze avenue in the south end of town. >> at the end we tried to do as best we can in any city or nation state to prevent homicide. >> councilman says there are two ways to put more cops on the street to try to curtail the rising crime. >> it is a matter of what residents want. we can raise taxes or reorganize the way we do things on the


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