In 2004, Horace Atwater Jr. took in Adrian Hawkins as a foster child. Adrian was a teenager at the time, "this little, skinny kid, about 14," Horace recalls. "You didn't really have any clothes. You had mismatched socks."
Adrian had lived a difficult life as a child. He lived in several group and foster homes before moving in with Horace. "I remember times being hungry, seeing drugs and all kinds of stuff," Adrian tells Horace at StoryCorps in Atlanta. "I mean, some things had to happen for me to be in foster care."
In 1993, a freighter ran aground off Queens, N.Y. The Golden Venture had nearly 300 people on it who were being smuggled into the U.S. from China.
Passengers cited China's forced-sterilization program and governmental persecution from political expression as reasons to climb aboard the Golden Venture. Some paid the smugglers $30,000 to board the ship. An organized crime syndicate would front the money, and the passengers would have to work off the debt, often in restaurants like indentured servants.
Lance Cpl. Travis Williams, 29, is an Iraq War veteran — and the only post-9/11 Marine to lose every other member of his 12-man squad. It happened in August 2005, when Williams and his teammates were sent on a rescue mission in Barwanah, Iraq.
"That morning, we loaded into the vehicle," Williams recalls. "And I get tapped on the shoulder, and I got told that I need to bounce up to the next vehicle. I said, 'Catch you guys on the flipside.' And that was the last thing I ever said to them."
In 1991, Kentucky residents Sally Edwards and Lue Hutchinson had sons serving in the Gulf War. Sally's son, Jack, was a Marine captain. Lue's son, Tom Butts, was a staff sergeant in the Army. The two men never knew each other, but today, their mothers are best friends.
Both soldiers were killed in February of 1991. Jack was 34. "They were the cover for a medical mission. The helicopter lost its top rotor blade, and they didn't make it back," Sally says.