Former hostage works for animal welfare

ORANGE COUNTY, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- Twenty-five years ago in 1991, Associated Press journalist Terry Anderson was released after being abducted in Beirut and held hostage for seven years.

The story made international headlines, as Anderson explained how he survived the ordeal.

"You just do what you have to do. You wake up every day, and you summon up the energy from somewhere, even when you think you haven't got it," he said at a press conference at the time.

This year, Anderson retired after years of teaching journalism at universities. He settled near friends in Orange County, and he's helping a group called Virginians for Change to Animal Legislation, which is pushing for tougher animal welfare laws after the Peaceable Farm horse rescue raid last year.

"There is a lot of unnecessary cruelty on the local level here that needs to be addressed and isn't being addressed," said Anderson during a recent interview.

Anderson's love for animals is obvious as he shows off the small home and property he's renovating and that he shares with his dogs, cats and chickens. But his new work on behalf of animals is not his only charitable endeavor.

He's honorary chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and as a Marine veteran, he started a charity that has built more than 50 schools in Vietnam.

"We started 22 years ago, building one school as some sort of reconciliation between Vietnam and America," he said. "It was so much fun, we kept going."

He says the long years he spent locked up, missing his daughter's birth and early childhood and wondering if he'd ever come home, gave him time to reflect on how he wanted to live.

"I thought about what I'd done, and I thought, if you get your life back, what are you going to do," he said. "And I thought, well, I want to make a difference. I want to add something. And that's what I've been trying to do since."

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