Rumsfeld Remembers Fallen Pentagon Workers
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2001 Exactly three months after a hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stood in front of the damaged military headquarters and vowed that America will not forget those killed in the attack.
"We will remember their lives," Rumsfeld told the small crowd who braved the rain and mud to mark the moment the terrorists struck. "We will retell their stories again and again so that neither the nation nor the world ever forgets."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld speaks at a Dec. 11, 2001, ceremony commemorating those killed three months ago in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"Their deaths were a clarion call to our nation," Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard Myers said during the ceremony. "A call to once again confront the enemies of freedom, a call to once again join with friends and allies to preserve our basic values, and a call to stand united."
Rumsfeld said that before Sept. 11 Americans were wondering where all the heroes were. Nobody wonders any more. "Today, all can see that the spirit of our nation is strong. And the heroes? We don't have to look far to find them," he said. "On Sept. 11 they were here and in New York, pulling friends and strangers out of the fire and out of the rubble.
"And in the skies over Pennsylvania, they showed those who believed Americans would not fight back that they were 'ready to roll.'"
American forces in Afghanistan are teaching Al Qaeda terrorists lessons they did not learn in Osama bin Laden's training camps, the secretary said.
"They're teaching (the terrorists) and all enemies of freedom that, as President Ronald Reagan put it, 'No weapon in any arsenal in the world is as formidable as the will and the moral courage of free men and free women,'" Rumsfeld said.
He called the damaged building being rebuilt behind him a symbol of that will and courage, and added that it will be stronger and surer than before. The rebuilt Pentagon will be "a tribute to those heroes of today and all those heroes of yesterday who now sleep beneath the hills of Arlington Cemetery and on whose shoulders we are proud to stand," Rumsfeld said.
He also said he believes the thousands of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks here, in New York and in Pennsylvania would be proud of how the nation has come together in the aftermath of the tragedy.
"If they could see how our country is united to preserve freedom from terror they'd be proud, proud of our unity, proud of our strength and proud of the determination to find, root out and deal with the evil of terrorism and those who seek to terrorize," Rumsfeld said. "And we will."