Sept. 11 Victims Remembered at Arlington National Cemetery
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Sep. 11, 2004 Chaquita Young, 21, and her mother Lisa, a staff officer at the Pentagon, were supposed to go to the mall the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace pay their respects during a
ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery remembering victims of the Sept. 11,
2001, attack on the Pentagon. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample,
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Instead, she spent the morning searching subway stations throughout metropolitan Washington looking for her mother, after learning in horror that the Pentagon had been hit by a terrorist attack.
"When I first learned of the attack, my first thought was of my mother," she said. "She would always call me when she got to work. But I didn't get the call."
Young said it wasn't until a month later, shortly after her 18th birthday, that she got the official word that her mother was one of the 184 victims killed in the attack.
Young's story was one of many told during tearful moments of remembrance today, as the family members of those killed in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon gathered near a granite memorial at Arlington National Cemetery here.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld joined Vice Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace in laying a large wreath at the monument.
During a brief speech, Rumsfeld offered words of condolence, and afterward talked personally with family members. "We think of you often," he said. "We remember your loss, our loss, our country's loss, and the loss of precious lives."
He told family members that the victims of the Pentagon attack join other brave patriots buried at Arlington National Cemetery who died for the cause of freedom.
"To their friends and family, our nation offers our heartfelt condolences, our gratitude and our prayers," he said.
The terrorists responsible for the tragedy had a "sinister logic," Rumsfeld said. "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 that we have in each other, and that they could weaken the glue that holds our society together." But they underestimated the United States, he added. "They failed to understand the character of our people." Still, he said, the "wound that was opened three years ago will always be with us."
The secretary's words provided some comfort to Devita Bishundat, who is still suffering. Standing next to the headstone of her brother, Navy sailor Kris Romeo Bishundat, she said the intimate ceremony would help get her through the day. "I keep asking myself, 'Will it get easier as the years go on?" she said. "And the answer to that question is no." Her was killed three days shy of his 24th birthday, but she wouldn't discuss the events that took her brother's life. She said only, "I think I'm OK," and slowly walked away.