PASADENA, Calif. – Terry Anderson says he rarely recalls the anniversary of being kidnapped and held captive in Lebanon for nearly seven years, a crisis that he revisits in a new National Geographic special.
Instead, he's reminded of the date by others who call or e-mail when it rolls around.
The former Associated Press chief Mideast correspondent in Beirut marks the 20th anniversary of his captivity in "American Hostage," a special airing Jan. 17 as part of the cable channel's "Explorer" series.
"It brought back some things very vividly that I haven't thought about in quite a while," Anderson said Wednesday at the Television Critics Association's winter meeting. "I've never forgotten it and it doesn't go away, but there's an immediacy in seeing this thing that I hadn't felt in a long time."
Anderson has given numerous interviews about his ordeal as the longest held American hostage, but he goes into details never previously revealed in the special that includes interviews with his grown daughter and former wife, who speak for first time.
"There was a lot of damage to all of us and certainly to me that didn't emerge for a very long time," he said. "I haven't talked very much about that."
The show uses re-enactments to detail Anderson's harrowing experience.
He was abducted at gunpoint from a street in Beirut in March 1985 by a group of Hezbollah Shiite Muslims in an attempt to drive U.S. military forces from Lebanon during the country's civil war. He was held for nearly seven years before being released in December 1991.
"When I was taken it was one of the first times they had turned on journalists. We became targets instead of observers," Anderson said. "That phenomenon has continued in Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. My case was unique in that it was so long term. That doesn't happen so much anymore. Either someone successfully gets you out or you're killed."
Anderson, 63, currently teaches journalism at the University of Kentucky.
"I just had my knee replaced," he said, using a walker to get around. "I'm enjoying life and I'm pretty happy."
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