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Military Clergymen Dedicate Pentagon Memorial Chapel

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2002 – Clergymen from all services and several religions joined today in dedicating a chapel built at the site where American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

"It's a beautiful place, a quiet place," said Maj. Gen. Gaylord Gunhus, Army chief of chaplains. "A bit over a year ago it wasn't so. It was a place of horror, pain, blood. It was a place of fire and broken stone walls. It was a place of death for so many. It was a place where we prayed to God to take away the suffering and restore the peace."

During the ceremony, Gunhus lit the stained glass window at the front of the chapel and described its special significance. The window's designer, commercial artist Dennis Roberts, donated his time and materials. He brought the pieces of colored glass to a senior Army chaplains conference and enlisted the help of roughly 400 chaplains and chaplain assistants in assembling the window.

The five-sided window features an eagle, an image of the Pentagon, the American flag and an olive branch. Two crimson rings around the images are made of 184 pieces of red glass, one for each of the 184 victims killed here Sept. 11.

"Those broken shards were bound together then in a window that virtually jumps out at us with a message of hope and our nation's resolve," Gunhus said. "What once was a pile of broken glass is now a symbol of unity and of remembrance."

He mentioned that outside one of the chapel windows is a charred piece of stone that was blackened in the fire following the attack. It was laid in the rebuilt wall as a "reminder to us of how this wall came to be," Gunhus said.

"Today, we dedicate this Pentagon Memorial Chapel in memory of our friends and colleagues and comrades -- all faithful servants of their nation," he said. "This place created in their honor appropriately pays tribute to our God and to our country."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMaj. Gen. Lorraine K. Potter, chief of the Air Force Chaplain Service, lights a candle Nov. 12, 2002, during the dedication service for a memorial chapel built at the site where terrorists crashed hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Kathleen T. Rhem.  
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