Pentagon Memorial Dedication Time to Reflect on Lives Lost
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 15, 2006 A ceremony here today marking the start of construction for the Pentagon Memorial will provide "a reminder of why we all do what we do," the Joint Staff's deputy director for regional operations told Pentagon reporters yesterday.
The dedication ceremony, set for 1:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, will honor those killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon, Army Brig. Gen. Carter Ham said during a Pentagon news briefing.
"It's for those who were killed, and their families, that all of us privileged to wear the uniforms of our nation have pledged our support," Ham said. "We'll never forget them, nor those who were killed in New York and Pennsylvania on that day."
The Pentagon Memorial will include 184 benches, each bearing the name of a person killed at the Pentagon on Sept. 11. The benches will be arranged by the victims' ages, and separated into two groups for those who died in the Pentagon and those who died aboard American Airlines Flight 77, the hijacked plane used in the attack.
While they honor the memories of those lost, Ham said it's also important for Americans to remember those killed in the global war on terror that the attacks thrust on the country. "All of us in uniform are ever grateful for our brothers and sisters from all services who have paid the ultimate price in this global war against terrorism," he said.
Ham told reporters the military death toll in Iraq shouldn't be thought of simply as an aggregate number, but as individuals and families "to whom we should be very, very grateful."
"Each and every loss is felt hard by our nation, by the unit from which those individuals come and certainly mostly by their families," he said. "I don't know that there's ever a way that you can adequately thank a family for the sacrifice that they make in the loss of a loved one. It's the hardest thing I think any of us ever have to go through when we experience those kinds of losses," Ham said.
These losses make it all the more important for Americans to remember that sometimes there's a mission and a "greater good" that demands tremendous sacrifice, he said.
"And the fact that we have had in our nation, and in many other nations, young men and women who have stepped forward--fully knowing the consequences of their action, to serve their nations in this time of war, to help the people of Iraq, to help the people of Afghanistan restore order, to establish legitimate governments, representative governments--I think speaks volumes about this generation of young people," Ham said.