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Cathedral Patrons' Generosity Supports DoD Charities

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2001 – The dean of Washington National Cathedral came to the Pentagon Oct. 25 to give DoD charities more than $30,000.

Most of the money, Dean Nathan Baxter explained, was from a collection taken during the cathedral's national memorial service Sept. 14 for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The devastating events of Sept. 11 were a time that, as Patrick Henry said, try men's souls," Baxter said. "At the service the president asked that there be an offering, that those who were gathered would pray but also would share their own means that might be used for support of those families that had been devastated by this tragedy."

Those who attended the service donated $23,000. "(That was) so generous on the part of people who did not know before they arrived that there would be an offering," Baxter said. The cathedral later received another $8,000 through the mail from people who had been watching the service on television and heard Bush's request, he noted.

"The president said he wanted the gifts to be used in support of the men and women of the armed forces and also those who are civilians who support our defense, so that their families might be aided in some way," Baxter said, explaining why the money was being given to the Pentagon.

The dean came to the Pentagon with three checks for $10,246 each. One went to the Navy and Marine Corps Aid Society and one to Army Emergency Relief. DoD Comptroller Dov Zakheim accepted the third on behalf of the Federal Employee Education Assistance Fund.

"This is a fund that provides emergency assistance to those in need, and obviously there are many of those right now," Zakheim said during the small event in his office. "A special fund is also being set up for minor children of those who have been affected, so they can go to college without worries."

Representatives of the two service charities that received checks thanked the dean and spoke of other outpourings of generosity they've witnessed since Sept. 11.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Nathaniel Thompson Jr., director of AER, told of a $50 check AER had received accompanied by a note in Russian. He had a Russian-speaking teller at his credit union translate the note, which was from a widow. "She said she remembers tough times in World War II and this is her contribution to the country that befriended her," he said.

The sea services' relief agency's executive vice president and chief operations officer told a similar story. Retired Rear Adm. John Dalrymple said the society had just that morning received $4,000 from an eighth-grade class in Yokosuka, Japan. "And with it came three notebooks filled with notes and cards from all the kids in the school," he said.

Baxter said he was a combat medic in Vietnam. "I know what it means to know that your country in some way (is) standing with you," he said.

After the checks were presented, Zakheim asked Baxter to lead the group in prayer. "Our hearts are bound together for the great glory of democracy and of freedom. We ask, O God, that you would be with all the families who have suffered the attack upon our freedoms, and that they may sense through all that we do now and in the days ahead the love of a grateful nation," Baxter said. "We pray that You would be present with our men and women of the armed forces, who, even as we pray, are in harm's way to defend our freedoms and bring freedom not only to us but to the people of Afghanistan."

Zakheim had the final word, though. "God bless America," he said.

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