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Special Veterans Day Programming

Essential Pittsburgh: Gold Star Children and America's Longest War
Noon and 8 p.m.

An estimated 5,000 American children lost a parent to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Children who have lost a parent to war are the subject of the documentary Gold Star Children: Two Generations Sharing Loss and Healing, premiering Monday on the Pentagon channel. This Veterans Day, Essential Pittsburgh will talk with the film’s writer, producer and director Mitty Griffis Mirrer.

Also, listen for a conversation with father and son Army Col. Tom Stokes and Air Force Technical Sgt. Brendan Stokes, who both served in Afghanistan within months of each other. Col. Stokes served as a behavioral health social worker in Afghanistan. His job was to help keep the troops healthy. He says there is more to being in the military than deployment.

Pittsburgh native Carmen Gentile has worked as a freelance reporter embedded with American troops in Afghanistan. He'll reflect on witnessing scenes from what has now become America's longest war. In 2010, a man wielding a rocket launcher fired an explosive ordnance straight at his head. He was blinded in one eye and suffered a shattered cheekbone. He wrote about the experience in his book Kissed by the Taliban.

Studio 360 American Icons: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
9 p.m.

How do you build a monument to a war that was more tragic than triumphant? Maya Lin was practically a kid when she got the commission to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. “The veterans were asking me, ‘What do you think people are going to do when they first come here?’” she remembers. “And I wanted to say, ‘They’re going to cry.’"
Her minimalistic granite wall was derided by one vet as a “black gash of shame.” But inscribed with the name of every fallen soldier, it became a sacred place for veterans and their families, and it influenced later designs like the National September 11 Memorial. We’ll visit a replica of the wall that travels to veterans’ parades around the country, and hear from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel how this singular work of architecture has influenced how we think about war.