Union Tribune

September 12, 2002 

Pentagon, whole again, salutes heroes

By OTTO KREISHER 
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE 

WASHINGTON There were cheers mixed with a few tears.

There were rows of waving flags and circles of unwavering
security.

But most of all there was a sense of resolve at a Pentagon
ceremony yesterday honoring the victims and the heroes of
Sept. 11 and re-dedicating a building nearly restored from the
wound it suffered in a deadly attack a year ago.

Standing on a platform 50 yards from where hijacked American
Airlines Flight 77 carved a five-story gash into the Pentagon,
President Bush joined other speakers in calling the repaired
building a symbol of America's determination to defeat the
terrorists who caused that damage.

"One year ago, men and women and children were killed here
because they were Americans and because this place is a symbol
to the world of our country's might and resolve," Bush said,
referring to the 184 who died in the building and aboard the
airliner.

"Today we remember each life, we re-dedicate this proud
symbol, and we renew our commitment to win the war that
began here," he said.

Although the terrorists hoped to demoralize the nation, they
failed, Bush said, citing the heroism that saved hundreds from
the burning building, the rapid preparation for a military
response and the progress made against al-Qaeda and the
Taliban in Afghanistan.

"And within one year, this great building has been made whole
once again," he said, drawing applause from a flag-waving crowd
of about 12,000, many of whom work within the Pentagon's gray
limestone walls.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld noted that a year ago the
area before him "was a battle zone, a scene of billowing smoke,
towering flames, broken rock, and twisted metal." Its restoration
"says much about our nation and the fierceness and resilience of
the American people," he said.

Here, unlike in New York and Oklahoma City, there has been
little talk of preserving the spot of the terrorist attack as
"hallowed ground." It is called the Phoenix Project Site, the name
the workers gave to their drive to give the Pentagon new life
from the flames of hatred.

The only sign of destruction on the outside wall was a block of
fire-blackened limestone re-installed near the point of impact.

Much of the applause during the hourlong ceremony was for the
construction workers who achieved their self-imposed goal of
demolishing and rebuilding 400,000 square feet of the Pentagon
in less than 11 months.

Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, saluted "the hardhat patriots of the Phoenix Project."

"You did more than repair our windows and walls; you repaired
our souls," Myers told the workers. "In the process, you turned
this building into another symbol, one of American resilience."

Looking ahead, Bush said the tragic events at the Pentagon, in
New York and in Pennsylvania a year ago "set in motion the first
great struggle of a new century."

The terro rists who struck those blows "will not be stopped by a
sense of decency or a hint of conscience. But they will be
stopped," he said.

But in another indication of his determination to topple Iraqi
leader Saddam Hussein, Bush said the war would be waged
against "terrorists and dictators" who plot to harm the United
States.