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Pentagon Wears New Face at Dedication Capsule Ceremony

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2002 – If the Pentagon was a person, it might just be smiling right now as it wears a spanking new coat of bright limestone across its western wall.

A terrorist-hijacked airliner slammed into that wall nine months ago, killing 184 people. Today, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz participated in a Pentagon ceremony to install a special dedication capsule into that once ruined west wall.

Wolfowitz said local commuters passing by the Pentagon have "witnessed a truly remarkable transformation" since the terrorist attack.

"Today, we'll finish one important part of that remarkable transformation," he continued, "We will restore to its rightful place a block of Indiana limestone that builders first placed here six decades ago."

A discolored block of stone taken from the ruins of the west wall after the attack was used to cap the niche where the dedication capsule would be placed. The stone is inscribed with the date of the attack. Pentagon renovation program manager Walker Lee Evey, with Wolfowitz at his side, placed the capsule into the niche. Then, with the help of construction workers, the capstone was inserted into the opening.

The capsule contains items such as a signed photograph of President Bush with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld standing outside the Pentagon, handmade cards and letters of condolences from school children, medallions from Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff, Arlington County firefighter and police patches, a Defense Protective Services patch, a plaque listing the 184 victims, and more.

Items to be placed inside the capsule were displayed to the news media yesterday at a Pentagon briefing hosted by Charles S. Abell, assistant secretary of defense for force management policy.

The dedication capsule, Abell said, "is our way of remembering and memorializing the victims and the events of Sept. 11 and to recognize the good works of the many dedicated people on the construction crews who've helped us reconstruct the Pentagon so quickly and so well."

The capsule isn't meant to be opened like a time capsule, he said. "We don't intend to dig this out at any specific date in the future and have it available for historians and the curious," he added. "We just expect it to be there to commemorate the victims and the rebuilding effort and the war on terrorism."

Although the capstone's "charred face speaks of walls once broken and burning," Wolfowitz remarked, its darkened stone will serve as both a reminder of the attack and of hope for the future. He then read aloud a letter from a California schoolgirl named Amanda:

"'Dear Pentagon, 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've got it exactly right," Wolfowitz said to the audience, noting that the qualities outlined in the girl's letter "do define America."

He praised the construction workers, noting they have worked hard "armed with hammers and saws" to reconstruct the damaged Pentagon.

"With your hearts and hands you have rebuilt this symbol of American values and strength, stone-by-stone and we thank you," he added.

Wolfowitz noted that the Pentagon reconstruction crew, in adopting the battle cry, "Let's Roll," honors Sept. 11 hero Todd Beamer. A passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, Beamer said to fellow passengers, "Let's Roll!" before rushing their hijackers. The plane crashed in a Pennsylvania field killing all aboard. Beamer and his fellow passengers have been credited with sacrificing their lives to save others.

The Pentagon reconstruction workers have "healed this wall, and in doing so, you are helping to heal our nation," Wolfowitz said.

The 184 men and women who died at the Pentagon were patriots, he noted, representing values alien to the terrorists.

Quoting Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz said: "'Those Americans died 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.'"

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageCharles S. Abell, assistant secretary of defense for force management policy, introduces items to be placed inside the dedication capsule at a June 10 Pentagon press briefing. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA signed photo of President Bush at the Pentagon attack site with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is among items in a bronze dedication capsule placed behind the last limestone block to the Pentagon's repaired outer west wall on June 11, 2002. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe dedication capsule (right) is a 7-by-9- by-7.5-inch bronze box with the inscription: "On June 11, 2002 a collection of items representative of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon was placed in this dedication capsule as a testament to the strength and resolve of the American people." Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSchool children across the nation sent thousands of handmade sympathy cards like these, and other items, to the Pentagon in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. The two cards displayed were among items placed inside the dedication capsule, installed June 11, 2002, with the placing of the last limestone block to the Pentagon's repaired outer west wall. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDeputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz watches Pentagon renovation program manager Walker Lee Evey place the dedication capsule into its niche inside the Pentagon's reconstructed west wall during a ceremony June 11, 2002. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe bronze dedication capsule measures 7-by- 9-by-7.5 inches and was made in a foundry in Pittsburgh. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDeputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Pentagon construction workers pose for a photograph June 11, 2002, after the dedication capsule ceremony. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMedallions from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (left) and from Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are among other items in a bronze dedication capsule placed behind the last limestone block to the Pentagon's repaired outer west wall on June 11, 2002. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe "Let's Roll" patch worn by all of the construction workers at the Pentagon is among items in a bronze dedication capsule placed behind the last limestone block to the Pentagon's repaired outer west wall on June 11, 2002. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA copy of President Bush's speech to the joint session of Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon (left); a signed photo of Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at the attack site; and Arlington County Police and Fire Department badges are included among items in a bronze dedication capsule placed behind the last limestone block to the Pentagon's repaired outer west wall on June 11, 2002. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA signed photo of President Bush, with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, at the Pentagon attack site; medallions from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (left) and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and patches from the Arlington County Fire Department and Police Department, and the Defense Protective Services are among the items in a bronze dedication capsule placed behind the last limestone block to the Pentagon's repaired outer west wall on June 11, 2002. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAn inscribed plaque listing the 184 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon is among items in a bronze dedication capsule placed behind the last limestone block to the Pentagon's repaired outer west wall on June 11, 2002. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe discolored limestone block used to cover the dedication capsule is an original piece from the Pentagon's west wall near where the terrorist-hijacked airliner hit the building. Almost 4,000 new limestone blocks were used for the new outer faade. Inscribed on the capstone block is the date of the attack: Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDeputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz speaks at the June 11, 2002, ceremony marking the installation of the last limestone block in the repaired outer wall of the Pentagon damaged nine months ago by terrorist hijackers. A bronze dedication capsule honoring the 184 victims of the Sept. 11 attack was placed behind the block. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDeputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz speaks at the June 11, 2002, ceremony marking the installation of the last limestone block in the repaired outer wall of the Pentagon damaged nine months ago by terrorist hijackers. A bronze dedication capsule honoring the 184 victims of the Sept. 11 attack was placed behind the block. Almost 4,000 new limestone blocks were used in the reconstruction. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA bound collection of over 46,000 thanks from Americans nationwide to U.S. military members for their selfless service during the global war against terrorism is among items in a bronze dedication capsule placed behind the last limestone block to the Pentagon's repaired outer west wall on June 11, 2002. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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