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DoD Flooded with Mail, Posters Honoring Sept. 11 Terror Victims

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2001 – The Defense Department is being inundated by e-mail, cards, letters and posters, all filled with an outpouring of sympathy and concern for victims and loved ones of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, according to Janice Simms of the Defense Public Inquiry and Analysis Office.

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Elementary schoolchildren drew their thoughts about the attack on the Pentagon on a poster that was sent to DoD's Family (Casualty) Assistance Center in Arlington, Va. Photo by Rudi Williams.
  

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"People have sent more than 20 large posters, more than 1,000 letters and cards and more than 10,000 e-mail messages," Simms noted. "We're getting e-mail messages from around the world -- Japan, Germany, Italy, France, Canada, China ... you name it. We've gotten a call from a gentleman who said he's Russian and wanted to express his condolences and sympathy.

"They're showing support for America, saying terrorism is a terrible thing and should be stopped," she said. "They offer condolences and sympathy to the family members of the victims here at the Pentagon as well as the World Trade Center."

Many of the messages are dated Sept. 12, the day after the terrorist attack, Simms noted. Some correspondence contains threats against government officials; those are turned over to security personnel. Most of the cards and letters, though, offer condolences and sympathy and condemn terrorism.

Simms said some writers offer suggestions on how to catch the terrorists, how to improve security in different areas as well as on airplanes. Many retired military people want to return to active duty to help fight terrorism.

"It's very heartening to read these and we're going to answer as many as we can," said June Forte, an Air Force public affairs specialist on a one-year duty tour with DoD Public Affairs. She is reading and compiling the correspondence.

"A great many people are asking for restraint rather than a military attack," Forte noted. "On the other extreme, some people are saying we need to wipe them out totally, regardless of whether it's just the terrorist or the countries that support them. Many of them are offering support and saying they have a tremendous amount of faith in the leadership here.

"They're talking about having the right leaders at the right time and it's not just the president and secretary of defense, but Secretary of State Colin Powell, too," Forte said.

People are sending their resumes showing their expertise in certain specialties and saying they ready to join the military or become a DoD civilian employee, she said. Hundreds of messages, cards and posters come from schoolchildren across the nation saying they're praying for people at the Pentagon and wishing them well, according to Forte.

"In looking at all this, I'm sure the historians will make sure all these things are collected and preserved for historical purposes," she said. "They'll probably be displayed somewhere at a later time, perhaps in the building or in the National Archives."

Simms said the secretary of defense has seen some of the posters and asked that they be displayed around the building so Pentagon workers and visitors can see them.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageIdaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and Lt. Gov. Jack Riggs led the signatures on a poster from concerned people of the greater Boise area addressed to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in honor of victims of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageJanice Simms and June Forte hold up a large poster signed by the Idaho governor and lieutenant governor and concerned people of the greater Boise area. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSaint Columba School in Oxon Hill, Md., sent a poster to DoD's Family (Casualty) Assistance Center in Arlington, Va., that reads: "You are in our thoughts and prayers." Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageOne of two wreaths hung on the third floor in Corridor A of the Pentagon was sent by the "Disabled American Veterans, Reading, Berks County, Pa., Chapter #10." Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMore than 100 cards, hand-written notes, drawings and posters line part of the fence surrounding "Camp Unity," the tent camp in the Pentagon south parking lot where more than 70,000 hot meals were served to rescue and recovery workers. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA sheet full of red and blue hand prints on a white background with two small American flags and the words, "Praying for America," was among more than 20 large posters sent to the Pentagon. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageTypical of the many large and small posters received at the Pentagon from around the country were such messages as, "Our Thoughts & Hopes Are With You," "To everyone at the Pentagon... Paris, TX, loves you. God Bless You. Don't Lose Hope." Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe students of North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary School, near York, Pa., sent a banner with the message, "Our hearts are with you." Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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