Journalist Terry Anderson, visiting lecturer at the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications, who was an American hostage in Lebanon 1985-1991, spoke about the journalism profession at Campbellsville University’s Sixth Annual Media Appreciation Luncheon April 15 in the Banquet Hall. He also spoke about how religion played a factor in his life while in captivity at a session open to the public following the luncheon. (Campbellsville University Photo by André Tomaz)
Terry Anderson speaks at Campbellsville University’s annual Media Appreciation Luncheon and at a Conversation in Ransdell Chapel
By Skye Gardner, student news writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – “The first few days were pretty awful, as you can imagine,” Terry Anderson said. “The shock, and the remorse, and the anger.” His eyes watered as he spoke of his horrible and haunting memories. Ransdell Chapel on the campus of Campbellsville University was silent as Anderson spoke.
Anderson, 62, was taken hostage by Shiite militants in Lebanon and held for seven years from March 16, 1985 to Dec. 4, 1991. He spoke about his experiences at Campbellsville University’s Annual Media Appreciation Luncheon April 15, a time when the university thanks the media for what they do with CU.
Anderson spoke in the afternoon to the public. This talk was titled “A Conversation with Terry Anderson,” with the focus of the talk on Anderson’s “faith journey” through his time as a hostage.
“I’m going to talk to you about faith,” Anderson said sitting casually on the stairs of the chapel’s stage. He spoke of his Catholic upbringing and of losing his way religiously. “I was just beginning to find my way back when I was kidnapped,” he said.
“I was just beginning to read my Bible again and think about things in those terms. Then these guys came along, and yanked me out of my car, and stuffed me in the back of theirs and drove me off. Stuck me in some chains and a blindfold and I got a lot of time to think more about it,” Anderson said with a chuckle. “Lots of time.”
Terry Anderson discusses his “faith journey” to the audience in Ransdell Chapel. (Campbellsville University photo by André Tomaz)
Anderson told the audience of a day when one of the guards asked him if he needed anything. His response was simple, “I want a book. I want a Bible.”
“And much to my great surprise, he came in the next day and threw a brand new revised American Standard Bible in my lap.” Anderson read the same Bible for seven years, from cover to cover, over and over.
“It’s a tough book, it’s not easy. Especially when you come to that place where is says love your enemy. Here I’m sitting in a cell in somebody’s basement, chained and blindfolded, and God wants me to love my enemy.” Anderson said he worked on his anger for years and “tried to accept and not hate them for what they were doing.”
As for Anderson’s “faith journey,” as he calls it, “I’m still on it. And I don’t know where it’s going to go. It has gone in some very surprising places. Some amazing places.”
At the luncheon, Anderson showed his passion for journalists and freedom of the press.
Anderson said he works with the Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization that monitors attacks on journalists from around the world, “not because I believe journalists deserve any more protection than anyone else, but because I know that when any group, any government, any faction wants to oppress people, deny human rights or steal from them, they always start with the journalists because they know they can’t do that in the face of a free and active press.”
“We cannot have a democracy without a free press – period.”
He noted that our freedoms of speech, press and assembly are not guaranteed.
“Words don’t guarantee anything,” he said, because those freedoms are also included in the constitutions of China, North Korea and the former Soviet Union.
“What has guaranteed those freedoms is us being willing to fight for them, demanding them, insisting on them and occasionally going to jail for them,” Anderson said.
“As long as we want these freedoms, we have to fight for them.”
Anderson, a former journalist, writer, professor, columnist, poet and lecturer, has had many titles over his lifetime. He has worked in television and radio news, as a newspaper editor, wire service reporter and foreign correspondent and a Chief Middle East Correspondent for the Associated Press. He wrote a book about his experiences as a hostage titled “Den of Lions” and produced and narrated a prize-winning documentary about his return to Lebanon five years after his release, and that country’s recovery from its 16-year civil war.
He taught at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism, and is a visiting lecturer at the University of Kentucky’s School of Journalism and Telecommunications. He is honorary chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which monitors press freedom around the world. A former Marine and Vietnam veteran, he is founder and co-chair of the Vietnam Children’s Fund, which has built more than 40 elementary schools in that country. He holds a bachelor of arts in journalism and political science from Iowa State University.
Campbellsville University is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 3,006 students who represent 97 Kentucky counties, 30 states and 37 foreign nations. Listed in U.S.News & World Report’s 2010 “America’s Best Colleges,” CU is ranked 23rd in “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the South, tied for fifth in “most international students” and fourth in “up-and-coming” schools in baccalaureate colleges in the South. CU has been ranked 17 consecutive years with U.S.News & World Report. The university has also been named to America’s Best Christian Colleges® and to G.I. Jobs magazine as a Military Friendly School. Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his 11th year as president