Memorial Service Honors Pentagon Victims
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2001 Defense Department family members were truly "United in Memory" Oct. 11 as they remembered friends and co-workers lost in the attack on the Pentagon one month ago.
For the occasion, the DoD family expanded to include the 60 innocents aboard American Airlines Flight 77 that four hijackers used as a weapon against the building.
About 25,000 people gathered to pay their respects to those lost in the attack and while the mood was somber, the determination of the audience was evident. As the combined military chorus sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," the crowd spontaneously rose to its feet and held small American flags over their heads.
President Bush captured the mood. "We have come here to pay our respects to 125 men and women who died in the service of America," Bush said. "We also remember passengers on a hijacked plane. Those men and women, boys and girls who fell into the hands of evildoers.
"On Sept. 11, a great sorrow came to our country. And from that sorrow has come great resolve. Today, we are a nation awakened to the evil of terrorism and determined to destroy it."
Bush spoke about the actions in Afghanistan. He said the United States and coalition partners are eliminating power centers of the Taliban regime. "We gave that regime a choice, 'Turn over the terrorists or face your ruin,'" Bush said. "They chose unwisely."
He listed the steps against the terrorists and said he had "one more asset in the cause: the brave men and women in the United States military."
He said the military has responded to a great emergency with calm and courage. "Your country honors you," he said.
Bush committed to repairing the Pentagon and to destroying the terrorist networks. "The wound to this building will not be forgotten, but it will be repaired," he said. "Brick-by-brick we will quickly rebuild the Pentagon."
The president also promised the military everything it will need to fight the war against terrorism. "In the missions ahead for the military, you will have everything you need: Every resource, every weapon, every means to assure full victory for the United States and the cause of freedom," he said.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld thanked all those who helped during the attack and for the thoughts, prayers and deeds since. He said Americans remember those who died in the attacks as heroes, "and we are right to do so."
He said the victims died because they were Americans. "They died, then, 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," Rumsfeld said.
He said they also died for "the simple fact that they worked here at the Pentagon." Rumsfeld said the world sees the Pentagon as a place of power. The building that directs the awesome military capability of the United States of America. But it is "a might used differently than the long course of human history has known," he said.
Since the Pentagon was built in 1941, the building has headquartered efforts against two "totalitarian regimes that sought to oppress and rule other nations," Rumsfeld said. "It is no exaggeration of historical judgment to say that without this building, and those who worked here, that those two regimes would not have been stopped or thwarted in their oppression of countless millions."
He said today others seek to oppress millions by corrupting a noble religion. "It is the will to power, the urge to dominion over others, even to taking thousands of innocent lives or more," he said. "This oppression makes the terrorist a believer, not in the theology of God, but the theology of self and in the whispered words of temptation, 'Ye shall be as gods.'"
Rumsfeld said that in targeting the Pentagon, the terrorists correctly sensed that the opposite of all they were and stood for resided here.
"Those who work here, those who on Sept. 11 died here -- whether civilian or in uniform -- side-by-side they sought not to rule but to serve," he said. "They sought not to oppress, but to liberate. They worked not to take lives, but to protect them. And they tried not to pre-empt God, but to see to it His creatures lived as He intended: In the light and dignity of human freedom."