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Deputy Assistant Secretary Whitman Interview with Good Morning America

Presenters: Mr. Bryan Whitman, DASD (Media Operations)
June 11, 2002 7:00 AM EDT

(Interview with Diane Sawyer, ABC TV, Good Morning America)

SAWYER: But let's turn now because, as we said, we have a kind of anniversary, a sober anniversary, a remembrance if you will at the Pentagon this morning, a ceremony marking the completion of repairs to the western face of the building destroyed on September 11th - nine months ago today.

One hundred and twenty-five workers died in the attack, including 15 of Sheila Moody's 21 office mates. She suffered serious burns in the attack, and she joins us this morning along with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Brian Whitman, who organized today's ceremony. We thank you both.

Mr. Whitman, tell us about this remembrance capsule. I gather, placed inside, President Bush's speech and what else?

WHITMAN: Well, there are a number of things, Diane. This is - you are right. President Bush's speech - joint speech to Congress, as well as a plaque that has all the names of the victims that died here in the Pentagon, as well as the names of all the people that have been working on this construction site and rebuilding Pentagon, along with some memorabilia from - that represents not only the building here and the people that are working on the building, but also a number of things that represent the people that were involved in the rescue efforts as well as the firefighters.

SAWYER: The construction workers, as well, right, because I understand that there is also going to be the patch the construction workers wore which said "Let's Roll" on it. You're including that.

WHITMAN: That's correct. That is one of the items that is in the box. It is - it has become a motto. If you recall, Todd Beamer's famous words have been prevalent throughout the construction here at the Pentagon. This patch is worn by construction workers, it's found on their construction helmets, there are signs out here. It really is indicative of the commitment that they have to getting this job done.

SAWYER: Ms. Moody, you had just come from New York to work at the Pentagon. It was your second day on the job on September 11th when this happened. Did you think about just turning around, coming right back to New York? What's it like to still be there working in the building?

SHEILA MOODY: I definitely did. I definitely had fears and reservations about coming, and there was something inside of me that just wanted to run back to New York where I felt a little more safe, a little more secure. But I realized that it was a miracle what God did for me that day, and He didn't bring me out of that building for me to run and hide. So it was this courage and this strength that gave me the power to come back to the building and come back to my job.

SAWYER: So many of your colleagues died. Every single day is that present with the rest of you in the office?

MOODY: Pardon me?

SAWYER: Do you think every day about all those who died when you go into the office? Is it just impossible not to think about it each day?

MOODY: Oh, it is. It's impossible to wake up every day and not - even some days just to have the flashbacks of the events that happened on September 11th, and we do. We think about the co-workers that we lost, and we'll get together and - you know, even though I didn't know the co-workers very well, but some of the people that I work with now have some very fond memories of the people that they work with, and we share laughs and we share tears along with them.

SAWYER: I know you said that nine months to the day since September 11th means that new life has been brought into the world, in a sense, after nine months, and I want to ask you again, Mr. Whitman, if I can - I understand that some of the repairs, in fact, have new safety devices and measures in them. What kind?

WHITMAN: Well, yes. I mean, this building is the state-of-the-art construction, but Diane, this is - this day, also - nine months from the attack also marks a resolve and a commitment to the future and the job that has to be done, and this department's commitment to fighting the war on terrorism and all the people, all the troops that are out there engaged in that battle right now.

SAWYER: Well, again, we thank you both so much, and we want to tell everyone that the ceremonies today, of course, are another way of honoring those who were lost at the Pentagon. We thank you.

We should let you know, as well, as a kind of footnote also, in Washington this morning there will be several hundred people who lost loved ones on September 11th holding a rally. They're demanding an outside investigation into everything that went wrong, saying Congress is still not digging deep enough.

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