Tonight on Nightly News, correspondent Kevin Tibbles updates you on the story of Johnny Hameed. Kevin first met Johnny 18 months ago when he arrived in the U.S. from his home country of Iraq. (Click to watch the video report from Oct. 19, 2004.) Alone since the age of eight, Johnny survived eight more years on the streets of Baghdad until he found trust, friendship, then refuge, with the U.S. Army. His new friends made sure Johnny would live in a safe environment from that time forward. His new home was Girls and Boys Town.
You may remember Boys Town, the 1938 Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney movie which depicts life at Father Flanagan's Boys' Home in Nebraska. Decades later, the home is now called Girls and Boys Town, and it remains a beacon of hope for abused, abandoned and neglected boys and girls.
We recently visited Girls and Boys Town on graduation day. After a year-and-a-half and a steep, often difficult, learning curve, Johnny is a proud graduate of the class of 2006. The grads we met seemed filled with a greater joy, a bigger pride and an unmistakable sense of achievement. They marked the day not only with a diploma, but with the knowledge that they have overcome obstacles once thought insurmountable.
In the news field, we often cover tragic events, and in doing so our own lives are put in perspective. Less often, however, do we witness positive events that not only put life in proper perspective, but at the same time inspire and uplift. Seeing the joy on the faces of Johnny Hameed and the other students at Girls and Boys Town did just that.