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Assistant Secretary Abell Discusses the Contents of Dedication Capsule

Presenter: Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy Charles S. Abell
June 10, 2002 1:00 PM EDT

(Photo opportunity for the items to be placed in the dedication capsule to be placed behind the final piece of new limestone completing the Pentagon's western facade damaged by the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. Also participating was Allison Barber Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.)

Barber: I think we're ready to start. Mr. Abell is going to walk us through the components of the dedication capsule and then take your questions.

Abell: Good afternoon. My name is Charlie Abell. I'm the assistant secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy. And I'm going to talk to you a little bit about the dedication capsule that will be placed in the Pentagon tomorrow.

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz will place the capsule behind the last piece of limestone to be put into place, completing the repair of the facade of the Pentagon. It's our way of remembering and memorializing the victims and the events of September 11th, and to recognize the good works of the many dedicated people in the construction crews who have helped us reconstruct the Pentagon so quickly and so well.

These are the contents of the capsule. This is the capsule itself. Not meant to be a time capsule, but a dedication capsule; the difference being we don't intend to dig this out at any specific date in the future and have it available for historians and the curious, we just expect it to be there to commemorate the victims and the rebuilding effort and the war on terrorism.

As you can see up here, there are a number of things that will go in it. We have a coin from the secretary of Defense, a coin from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. We have patches and pins from the first responders, both the police and the firefighters. We have a copy of the president's address to the nation, that very stirring and inspiring speech. We have a copy of the president and the secretary visiting the site soon after the attack, and it's signed by the president. We have a joint resolution of the Congress. We have a small plaque here with all the victims' names listed. We have here a book that contains over 46,000 names of those who have sent thank-you cards in. We have a pin and the program from the memorial ceremony that was on October 11th. We have the patch worn by the construction crews that says, "Let's Roll." We have two cards representing the thousands and thousands of cards and plaques that were sent to the Pentagon, obviously done by children, that will be in there to remember it. And again, we have the capsule itself. I will take any questions you have and then allow you all to come review all this stuff.

Yes, sir.

Q: Who made the decision for the items to go into the capsule or what items would go into the capsule?

Abell: It was a collective effort. Families of the victims were asked. Leaders in the Pentagon were asked. Others contributed as they learned of it. So it was a group effort.

Yes, ma'am. On the side.

Q: How big is the actual capsule? What's the size of that?

Abell: You know, they told me, but I don't remember. It's inches, obviously, but -- I don't know.

Barber: Seven by nine by seven and one-half.

Abell: Question --

Q: Seven by nine by seven --

Barber: Seven and one-half.

Q: And will that be, like, airtight, sealed, whatever, or just closed?

Abell: It'll be closed on the back. I wouldn't want to characterize it as airtight.

Q: What's the capsule made out of?

Abell: Bronze, made by a foundry in Pennsylvania.

Barber: Any other questions?

Q: Did you say that book has written down basically where all your cards and mementoes came from?

Abell: No, no. There was a virtual thank-you card where folks came in and submitted their thanks, if you will. And these -- this is a recording of those names that were done electronically.

Q: I'm sorry; where is the capsule going to be buried?

Abell: It's behind the last piece of limestone. It'll be out in the corner on the side of the Pentagon where the attack was.

Q: (inaudible)

Abell: Tomorrow morning.

Yes, sir.

Q: Sir, how many victims are they honoring? The toll was 184.

Abell: One hundred and eighty-four victims.

Q: Hundred and eighty-four?

Abell: Mm-hmm.

Q: Thank you.

Abell: Yes, sir.

Q: Why was it decided that this was something that would be sealed and not meant to be re-opened at some future date? Why have that, rather than have some sort of time-capsule type of thing?

Abell: Well, this is the facade of the Pentagon. We did not intend to have the limestones ever removed, nor to do that -- this is a dedication capsule, as opposed to a time capsule. So it will be here forever, we hope. There will be a plaque, once the renovation is completed on the inside of the Pentagon, listing the contents and noting that it -- that there is, in fact, a dedication capsule. But it's, again, not intended to be taken out in any specified number of years and reviewed for the Smithsonian or historians.

Okay. I'm told y'all can come up and look at these things closer, if you want.

Barber: Thank you, sir.

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