Son Recalls Loss of Parents in Sept. 11 Pentagon Attack
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2005 Four years after his parents died when American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, Marcus Flagg said the United States must never forget the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks so the country never again experiences such a tragic day.
Marcus Flagg, center, who lost both parents in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon, visits with U.S. troops serving in Baghdad, Iraq, to thank them for their contributions. Flagg is in Washington to participate in the "America Supports You Freedom Walk" honoring victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and paying tribute to American servicemembers. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"If we don't honor it and remember it, it will happen again. History repeats itself," said Flagg, here for weekend commemoration activities marking the fourth anniversary of the attacks.
Flagg acknowledged it's painful to return to the Pentagon, where his parents, retired Navy Rear Adm. Wilson F. "Bud" Flagg and his wife, Dee, met their tragic end, along with their 182 fellow aircraft passengers and Pentagon employees.
"It's good to be back, but it's also sorrowful," said Flagg, who like his father, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, served in the Navy, then became a commercial pilot. "I know what happened not more than a couple yards from here."
That makes the Pentagon a fitting start point for the Sept. 11 "America Supports You Freedom Walk," Flagg said. The walk begins in the Pentagon parking lot at 10 a.m. and ends near the Washington Monument, where country music star Clint Black will present a musical tribute.
"I think it's a wonderful tribute that the Pentagon is doing the memorial walk," Flagg said. "I can't think of a better place to start it. It's a great tribute to the passengers and crew of flight 77, and also to the soldiers, sailors and airmen" who were killed or injured, and the families they left behind.
Flagg said he also strongly supports the Pentagon Memorial Fund project, calling it a "fantastic tribute" to the lives stolen on Sept. 11.
During the days following the attacks, as he planned his parents' funerals at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Md., Flagg said he felt "overwhelmed with gratitude" for the country's outpouring of support and patriotism.
He felt similarly moved earlier this year at an inaugural ball, where he met troops who'd been seriously wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting the global war on terror that resulted. "Their courage and determination in the face of adversity inspired me," Flagg said.
That inspiration drove Flagg to join "Circles of Influence," an effort based at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Va., that helps severely injured servicemembers and their families.
In July, Flagg traveled to Baghdad, Iraq, as a representative of families affected by the Sept. 11 attacks and to thank "as many soldiers as I could" for their contributions.
Many of the hundreds of troops he met told Flagg they had joined the military specifically because of attacks that claimed his parents and thousands of other Americans, he said.
"I considered it an honor to meet these men and women and was humbled to be in their presence," he said. "They expressed their pride in the job they are doing there. As a former naval officer, I understand and support them in their mission."
Today, as the United States prepares to commemorate the fourth anniversary of Sept. 11, and as thousands of its servicemembers are serving the country around the world and at home, along the hurricane-decimated Gulf Coast, Flagg said America has good reason to be proud of its military.
Whether they serve "in Iraq, Afghanistan or along our southern coast, we all owe them a debt of gratitude," he said.