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Rumsfeld Accepts 9-11 Flag at Pentagon Ceremony

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2003 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today accepted on DoD's behalf the U.S. flag that was flying over the U.S. Capitol during the terrorist attacks on America two years ago.

"This is an important day of remembrance for all of us," Rumsfeld said at a ceremony held in the Pentagon's memorial chapel.

The chapel is located near the spot where terrorist-hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the department's headquarters, killing 184 people Sept. 11, 2001.

After thanking Dennis Hastert, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, for the folded and framed flag, Rumsfeld said, "We accept this flag, the symbol of our country and of our faith in its founding ideas."

Throughout U.S. history "the flag has held a very special place in the hearts of Americans," Rumsfeld pointed out, noting that the red, white and blue "Stars and Stripes" represents "a symbol of freedom, to be sure, but more, a symbol of America's spirit."

The secretary quoted poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, saying, "Not gold, but only men, can make a people great and strong."

The military and civilian men and women who gave their lives at the Pentagon two years ago, the Rumsfeld pointed out, "are now a part of that foundation" of American resolve as the nation fights global terrorism.

Rumsfeld said the sacrifices of the Pentagon fallen will inspire America's "next generation of heroes and patriots."

DoD and the nation, he continued, are "grateful for their service for their sacrifice, and we thank God for the gift of their lives."

The chapel ceremony also featured the dedication of four framed, rectangular stained-glass windows - incorporating flying eagles and U.S. flags among the designs -- in honor of the victims of the Pentagon attack.

Rumsfeld thanked Dennis Roberts, the designer of the windows, "for helping to create a place of beauty and a place of peace."

A fifth Roberts-designed stained-glass window was made in the shape of the Pentagon. Bearing the inscription, "United in Memory September 11, 2001," it was dedicated last year when the new memorial chapel was officially opened.

Earlier in the day, the defense secretary spoke at a 9-11 observance at Arlington National Cemetery, where some victims of the Pentagon attack are buried.

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