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Saturday, September 11, 2004

Remembering the Pentagon Dead

At Arlington National Cemetery today, a bell will toll 184 times -- once for each victim killed three years ago when terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.

Three years later, the family members are still trying to raise funds for a memorial to those killed in the attack on the building.

The memorial was supposed to have been dedicated today, but fund raising has been slow, partly because the World Trade Center attacks overshadowed those killed at the Pentagon. No taxpayers' money is involved in the memorial.

Family members have been doing most of the fund raising themselves, although a professional fund-raiser was brought in about a year ago to help.

"It is our responsibility," Elaine Donovan said. Her husband, Bill, a Navy commander, was killed in the attack. "It is that simple. We need to make sure that it is built and built right. And we need to make sure it is built as it was designed. Do I know anything about fund raising? No. But we are all dedicated, and we are all intelligent, and we are all focused, and we will get the job done."

Memorial officials said about $17.5 million will be needed for construction. Another $10 million will be set aside to create a perpetual maintenance fund. Only about $3 million has been raised, with $1 million of that coming from the Anheuser-Busch Foundation which became the initial major corporate donor to the Pentagon Memorial Fund when it was established several months ago.

(CNN reported early this year that the largest private donation was a $100,000 contribution from U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his wife, Joyce. Minutes after the attack, Rumsfeld went to the Pentagon's attack site and helped victims until his security detail asked him to go back inside the building. The donation was made through the Rumsfeld family's charitable foundation, sources told CNN. His aides said private gifts would not be discussed publicly.)

The architects have been selected and the design chosen. The memorial would be built on a treestudded two acres next to the Pentagon and would consist of 184 benches, one for each victim. The benches, which look like diving boards, are unsupported on one end and seem to swoop from the ground. A Department of Defense press release said the benches would be made of "cast, clear, anodized aluminum polyester." A lighted pool of water would be underneath each bench.

Fifty-nine benches will face one direction to represent the airline passengers who died; the remaining 125 will face in the opposite direction for those who died in the Pentagon. The victims' names will be engraved on the sides of the benches, which will be arranged according to the age of the victims -- from 3 to 71.

James Laychak, president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund and brother of victim David Laychak, 40, a Pentagon budget analyst, said the victims of the attack were "our parents, children, brothers and sisters, colleagues and friends" and "represented a crosssection of America. They were simply going about their everyday lives, yet we lost them in a horrible tragedy. We welcome the support of people from all walks of life as we build the Pentagon Memorial as a tribute to our nation's loss and enduring spirit."

That's one reason the families are seeking donations from a cross-section of Americans as well: "Imagine if every person in this area gave just $10, we'd be at our goal," says Webster. "It's that simple, and because it was an attack on all of us, we're hoping people will be moved to do that."

Contributions to the

Pentagon Memorial Fund may

be made online at www.pentagonmemorial.net or by calling 800-929-4911 toll-free.


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld vows not to forget the victims of the 2001 attack on the Pentagon.

Rumsfeld led a third anniversary remembrance at Arlington National Cemetery today near the Pentagon.

The defense secretary joined dozens of relatives, friends and co-workers to observe a moment of silence at 9:37 a-m, Eastern time, when American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon.

Rumsfeld says the lives that were lost on September eleventh, 2001, will have meaning. He says the innocent victims on the plane -- and those inside the Pentagon -- will "live on" as a testimony to a country that is "courageous" and "determined" and to a people that are "resilient despite great loss."

Remembering Pentagon Victims: 9-11-04 PHOTO
An unidentified child leaves a flower on the memorial to September 11
victims of the Pentagon attack during a ceremony to honor the victims on
Saturday, September 11, 2004 in Arlington National Cemetery.

Remembering Pentagon Victims 9-11-04 PHOTO
Private Brandon Davis, a member of the United States Army Old Guard, salutes
during the singing of the National Anthem during a wreath laying ceremony to commemorate
the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks at Arlington National Cemetery, September 11, 2004

Remembering Pentagon Victims: 9-11-04 PHOTO
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice Chariman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General Peter Pace pause during a ceremony to honor the victims of the September 11, 2001
terrorist attacks Saturday, September 11, 2004 in Arlington National Cemetery

Remembering Pentagon Victims: 9-11-04 PHOTO
With his two-year-old son Clayton, Chin Sok Wells wipes tears from his eyes as he kneels at
the grave of his sister, U.S. Army Specialist Chin Sun Pak, during a wreath laying ceremony to
commemorate the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks at Arlington National Cemetery on September 11, 2004.

Remembering Pentagon Victims: 9-11-04 PHOTO
Cynthia Droz breaks down the her husbands grave after a ceremony to honor the
victims of the  September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on Saturday, September 11, 2004 in
Arlington National Cemetery. Droz lost her husband Charles Albert Droz in the attack on the Pentagon

Remembering Pentagon Victims: 9-11-04 PHOTO
United States Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff General Peter Pace (R) participate in a wreath laying ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the
9/11 terror attacks at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington Virginia on September 11, 2004.
 

No. 890-04
IMMEDIATE RELEASE  September 11, 2004
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld Remarks at Wreath Laying Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery

Chaplain Kerr, Mayor Williams, the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Marines, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, and distinguished officials, families and friends that we honor today.  Thank you all for being here.  We think of you often.  We remember your loss--our loss, the country’s loss, and the loss of loss of precious lives not lived -- colleagues from the Pentagon, passengers aboard 77 and crew members.

More than two centuries have passed since an assembly of citizens established a republic, rooted in liberty, and cemented in place by their belief in the unalienable rights of man.

The idea of government by the people was a truly audacious thought back then when our country was founded.  And, in many parts of the world it is still an audacious thought today.

There have always been those who benefit by the rule by the few -- by the tyrant.  Because America and freedom represent everything they preach against, they have fought our Nation since its founding in one way or another.

Free societies are in a very real sense an affront to their worldview.  Free systems are the truth that points out their lies.  They must know that, if given a real choice, the people they try to intimidate and rule would prefer freedom to that which the extremists offer.

Over the centuries these enemies have come in many forms -- Nazis, Fascists, Communists, fanatics, extremists of one type or another -- and they’ve killed millions trying to impose their will.  In those battles, America has of course lost many lives -- those who were innocent victims of the violence and the lives, also, of those who courageously sacrificed themselves to defend our ideals.

Here, in this place, we need not look far in any direction to see tens of thousands of reminders of those sacrifices.  Brave patriots occupy these hills, just as they occupy the cemeteries across the globe.

And they include the souls we gather to honor and remember today.  And to their friends and families, our Nation offers our heartfelt condolences, our gratitude, and our prayers.

It’s common to hear that the taking of life was senseless.  But those who inflicted this suffering had a sinister logic. They believed that by killing thousands of our citizens that they could frighten and intimidate our country, our people -- that they could shake the trust we have in each other, and that they could weaken the glue that holds our society together.

They wanted America to retreat from the world so that they could impose their ideology of oppression and hatred.  They thought they could strike us with impunity, and that we would acquiesce.  That the American soldier and the American people themselves, were in the words of one of their leaders “a paper tiger.”

Those we mourn today were not the first victims in the war declared against us by the extremists, nor were they the last.  All across the world, the enemy has taken innocent lives.  Extremists think nothing of cutting off people’s heads to advance their cause.  They have murdered citizens -- even hundreds of schoolchildren recently -- from countries across the globe.  And even today they plot to strike again.

But the enemies underestimated our country.  They failed to understand the character of our people.  And they misread our Commander-in-Chief.

Shortly after the September 11th attacks, President Bush told a shaken nation; he said, quote, “The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain.  Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.”

The wound that was opened three years ago will always be with us.  We know that.  Yet our grief has found its purpose.  September 11th was a call to arms.

And once again, brave men and women from this country have deployed abroad to defend freedom.    And once again, an uncertain world looks to America and her allies to lead the way.  And once again, a determined enemy faces the arsenal of a purposeful nation awakened to danger.

In 1941, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed the United States Congress in Washington D.C., warning Americans of the great struggle before them.

Churchill, of course, had warned of the Nazi advance long before it was accepted wisdom, and people properly gave his words great weight.    He said, “Sure I am that this day -- now -- we are the masters of our fate; that the task which has been set us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance.  As long as we have faith in our cause and an unconquerable will-power, salvation will not be denied us.”

Decades later, we again resolve to remain true to the mission that has been set before us.  The lives that were lost on September 11th have meaning.  They live on as a testament to a country that is courageous, that is determined, to a people who are resilient despite great loss, and to a cause that continues until that mission is accomplished and beyond.

            May the Lord watch over all of us and bless our great country.

Posted: 11 September 2004