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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Remarks at Dedication Capsule Ceremony

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
June 11, 2002 10:00 AM EDT

(Remarks at a ceremony placing a dedication capsule behind the restored western fa├žade of the Pentagon.)

Wolfowitz: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and especially all you ladies and gentlemen who have done this magnificent work on this building. It's a wonderful day this morning.

This is a building that thousands of people pass by each day on their way to work, on their way to visit places like Arlington Cemetery that belong to every American, on the way here to the Pentagon. Over the last nine months in their journeys, they've witnessed a truly remarkable transformation of this building. For those of us gathered here, those of us who work here in the Pentagon or on building the Pentagon, and for those watching from home, today is a very proud moment.

We're proud because today we'll finish one important part of that remarkable transformation. We will restore to its rightful place a block of Indiana limestone that builders first placed here six decades ago, a stone whose charred face speaks of walls once broken and burning, and whose face will serve as a reminder to make this wall and visitors and workers see whole and unbroken once more.

But, as we replace this original stone, this simple act means much, much more. The capsule that will also become part of these walls, containing photos, cards and letters, very much like one I'm going to read from in a few minutes, will be placed here to help us understand what this moment is about. And we thank those this morning who worked on that capsule, worked to pay tribute to those who were lost on that historic day.

Amanda Lynn, an eighth-grader at Taylor Middle School in California wrote:

"Dear Pentagon" -- we're people, not a building, but it's very cute. "Dear Pentagon," she wrote. "I believe we can all pull together and show what America means. To me, following the attacks last September, America means wisdom, strength, endurance and freedom." Amanda, you got it exactly right.

Wisdom, strength, endurance, freedom, those are qualities that do define America, qualities we see across America every day, qualities we see in you, the workers in hard hats and boots, armed with hammers and saws. With your hearts and your hands, you have rebuilt this symbol of American values and strength stone by stone, and we thank you.

You, our builders, adopted that battle cry that Todd Beamer led the passengers on that flight over Pennsylvania. "Let's roll" is what he said, and "Let's roll" is what you said. And that's exactly what you've done. You've healed this wall, and in doing so, you are helping to heal our nation. (Applause.)

In his address to the nation just days after the attacks, President Bush said, "Adversity introduces us to ourselves. This is true of a nation as well. In this trial," he said, "we have been reminded and the world has seen that our fellow Americans are generous and kind, resourceful and brave. Americans have shown a deep commitment to one another and an abiding love for our country."

This deep commitment and abiding love, so evident in painstaking and patient rebuilding, honors those who died here, those who died in New York, those who died in Pennsylvania. And it defies those who seek not to build but to kill and to destroy. The men and women who were lost here in the Pentagon on that morning in September died, as Secretary Rumsfeld has said, because their attackers sensed that the opposite of all they were and stood for resided here in this building. " Those Americans died, he said, because of how they lived, as free men and women proud of their freedom, proud of their country and proud of their country's cause, the cause of human freedom. They died because they were Americans."

And because we are Americans, because of what we stand for -- our enduring values; our right to govern ourselves, to live in safety and security, to enjoy peace and prosperity, justice and freedom; to find and worship God in our own way -- all of those things that define who we are and what we stand for -- because of them, we will not only rebuild, but we will be better than we were before. That is also what America means. It is home to unfounded -- unbounded optimism and pride in what we can accomplish together.

I have long believed that America's greatest power even more than our vast resources, more than the beauty we see all around us, more than our great melting pot or the great military strength that is built in part by the men and women who work in this building -- more than all of those, America's greatest power is what we stand for.

In closing her letter to the entire Pentagon family, Amanda Lynn offered some of that American optimism. "Hope," she wrote, "is what we have, and I know it will help us get through each and every day. As people of America, we stand together."

May God bless the men and women here and across America who stand together and build and labor for freedom. May God bless the men and women of our armed forces who serve our nation so faithfully and so well, and may God bless America. (Applause.)

We're now going to place the dedication capsule inside the wall, where it will remain forever.

Just so everyone understands, this is a stone from the original wall, and that's why it looks charred. The only thing that's been added is the date.