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America Recovers: Pentagon Memorial Service

Aired October 11, 2001 - 10:57   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington.

We are just about to get under way here in Washington at the Pentagon. A memorial service honoring 189 people who perished one month ago today, when American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon; 125 people in the Pentagon, military and civilian, 64 onboard the plane.


MAJ. GEN. LORRAINE POTTER, U.S. AIR FORCE CHIEF OF CHAPLAINS: Let us pray, all mighty God, from the watch fires of 100 circle camps to the flames within Pentagon offices, the World Trade Center, the Pennsylvania landscape, our great land has known the brutal sounds and sites of war. The truth of Democracy, the truth of freedom, the truth of goodness found within this nation goes marching on. You destined our great nation to be birthed as a free land from sea to shining sea. We have taken our purple mountains majesty and made them shining beacon of hope to a world in conflict. We have been inspired by your holy grace to use our waves of shining grain to feed the hungry of your world.

We do not forsake our destiny now. We remember those who have now made sacred this hollowed ground by the sacrifice of their lives. Bless them and those who celebrate their lives and deeply mourn their loss. May the citizens of our nations be inspired by the devotion and service of our national leaders and of all soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians of our military in the removal of terrorism from this world. May this and all nations be assured of our thoughtful seeking after justice.

Creator God, we stand in the history of your presence within our land, assured that you do bless America today and into the challenges of the future. May our world see that you oh mighty God, Jehovah are indeed in this place. God bless all who serve the cause of freedom, and God bless America.



MAJ. GEN. GAYLORD GUNBUS, U.S. ARMY CHIEF OF CHAPLAINS: Please be seated. We gather today to honor those who gave their lives and made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the country in the attack of September 11th. In our grief, we look to God for comfort and strength. Together we join and turn to the lord who is the source of all our hope. All of us come here with our own memories, and thoughts, and fate and feelings.

And yet today, we assemble not as individuals, but as a community united in memory and faith, united more closely than ever before. Needless to say, our lives are changed forever. Yet we thank God for his unchanging grace on which all of us can rely. Truly, the lord unites us, and truly he strengthens, and he will sustain us.

During this past month, we along with people across the great United States and around the world have been praying, both individually and collectively, we have been praying to God especially for our friends and families who lost loved ones and for those who were wounded in the attack. For many of us, our prayers have taken the form of actions, illustrated time and time again by the many acts of heroism and selfless service.

How can we even begin to recognize and express our gratitude to all who came to our aid on the morning of September 11th and who continue to support us now, for the members of our Pentagon community who survived the initial attack and took immediate action to rescue fallen comrades, for all the firefighters, police, rescue worker, local and across the country from every level of government, for the generous corporate donors of food and special services equipment and supplies, for the American Red Cross, for the Salvation Army, and scores of religious organizations and thousands of volunteers from throughout our nation, for children whose art, letters and banners decorated every blank wall with a message of hope? From the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you.

Your efforts demonstrate the true spirit of America, for courage, and compassion, and justice, and mercy are the time-tested values that make us truly a great nation and a great people. This hour, today, is a time for reflection.

It's a time for listening to God's voice. And in listening to God and living our faith, we become messengers of hope to one another and to the world and as we listen to God, we hear the promising message that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will sore on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

This service today then is for you, our grieving family members and friends. It is for you our Department of Defense family, it is for your our public servants and volunteers who have come to our aid. This service is for you, a president and all our leader whose are called to encourage and unite our nation.

This service is about God and his promise to be with us always in life and in death. It is about God's promise to face the uncertainty of the future with us. This service is about the promise of faith, and the power of faith to cast out fear and to refuse to let -- let evil triumph. It is our message to the world that our spirit will not be broken and our hope will never be diminished. May the prayers of people around the world pursuing justice and mercy be joined with our prayers today.

Lieutenant General John Van Alstyne has directed the activities of the Joint Family Assistance Center. He has provided our bereaved families support, and information, and assistance and care, and the families have asked him to speak on their behalf to all of us today.

LT. GEN. JOHN VAN ALSTYNE, DEPUTY ASST. DEFENSE SECRETARY: In the past month, the staff of the Pentagon Family Assistance Center has been honored to support the families of those who perished in the attack on the Pentagon on the 11th of September.

During these difficult days, the assistance center staff has been continuously inspired by family members as we have seen them return time and again to their personal inner well of strength. We have seen this inner strength as they kept going through uncertainty and anguish. We have seen this inner strength as they ensured unity within their families and among other families in the Center. Many of the families have asked that I speak on their behalf today. Their message to their loved ones, friends, coworkers and to the leadership is a simple one. They ask only that their loved one's service and sacrifice be remembered.

They ask that we remember that on the morning of the 11th of September, their husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, fiancee now lost was on duty, on duty in the Pentagon, on duty just as surely as any soldier in the Balkans or any sailor under way in the Persian Gulf. Families ask only that their loved ones be remembered in the history of our great country and in the heart of each of us.

The families ask only that we remember, that we, in the words of Lawrence Binyon, remember their loved ones at the going down of the sun and in the morning.

And a final word from the families, they want you to know that their prayer is that God will grant all of us courage and hope, and that we may all find their inner peace in these difficult days.


CAPT. BRUCE KHAN, CHAPLAIN CORPS, U.S. NAVAL RESERVE: To our troops and our nation, a reading from Psalm 27: "The Lord is my light and my help. Whom then would I fear? The lord is the stronghold of my life. Whom should I dread? When evil men assail me to devour my flesh, it is they my foes and my enemies who stumble and fall. Do not subject me to the will of my foes, for false witnesses and unjust accusers have appeared against me. Had I not the assurance that I would enjoy the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, look to the Lord, be strong and of good courage, oh, look to the Lord."

To those among us who mourn, a reading from Numbers chapter 6: "May God bless you and protect you. May God's presence graciously light your way. May the presence of God uplift you and bring you peace." Amen.

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, today we remember family members, friends and colleagues lost in the barbaric attack on the Pentagon. Civilian and military Pentagon employees, the contractors who support us, and the passengers and crew of flight 77.

We also grieve with the rest of America in the world for those killed in New York City and Pennsylvania. And we gather to comfort each other and to honor the dead. Our DoD colleagues working in the Pentagon that day would insist that they were only doing their jobs, but we know better. We know and they knew that they were serving their country, and suddenly on the 11th of September, they were called to make the ultimate sacrifice, and for that, we call them heroes.

We honor the heroism of defending our nation, we honor the heroism of taking oath to support the Constitution, and we honor the heroism of standing ready to serve the greater good of our society. That same heroism on the way at the Pentagon in the aftermath of the attack -- coworkers firefighters, police officers, medics, even private citizens driving past on the highway all rushed to help and put themselves in grave danger to rescue survivors and treat the injured.

One of them I had a chance to meet recently at Walter Reed Hospital was Army Sergeant Adis Goodwill (ph), a young emerging medical technician. She drove the first ambulance from Walter Reed Army hospital to arrive at the scene. Sergeant Goodwill spent long hours treating the wounded, simply doing her duty, all the while not knowing and, of course, worried about the fate of sister, Leah (ph), who worked in the World Trade Center. She would eventually learn that Leah was OK.

Prior to 11th of September, Sergeant Goodwill hadn't decided whether to re-enlist in the Army or not. But after the tragic event of that day, her course was clear: Three weeks ago I had the privilege of reenlisting her. With tears of pride in her eyes her family, including her sister Leah, watched her take the oath of office so she could continue serving her country. Of course Sergeant Goodwill is with us today. And thank you for being here.


The heroes kept coming in the days following the 11th. Individual volunteers, both military, firefighters, police officers and civil and military rescue units working on the site. Other Americans helped, too, as General Van Alstyne said, with donations of equipment, supplies and food, letters and posters from schoolchildren, and American flags everywhere.

Today we mourn our losses, but we should also celebrate the heroes of September 11th, both the living and the dead, and the heroic spirit that remains at the core of our great nation.

This is what our enemies do not understand: They can knock off stride for a moment or two, but then, we will gather ourselves with an unmasked unity of purpose and we'll rise to defend the ideals that make this country a deacon of hope around the world.

In speaking of those ideals, John Quincy Adams once said -- quote -- "I am well aware of the toil, and blood and treasure that it will cost to support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory."

The light and the glory of our ideals remain within our grasp. That's what our heroes died for. Some of them, the uniformed military members, made the commitment to fight for, and if necessary, to die for our country from the beginnings of their career.

Our civilian DoD employees had chosen to serve in a different way, but are now bound to their uniform comrades in the same sacrifice. Other victims, employees of contractors and the passengers and crew of the airliner were innocent, casualties of a war not of their choosing.

But if by some miracle we were able to ask all of them today whether a nation and government such as ours is worth they sacrifices, if we were able to ask them today whether that lightened glory is worth future sacrifices, the answer surely would be a resounding "yes."

The terrorist who perpetrated this violence should know that there are millions more American patriots who echo that resounding yes. We who defend this nation say to those who threaten us, here we stand, resolute in our allegiance to the Constitution, united in our service to the American people and the preservation and of our way of life, and undaunted in our devotion to duty and honor.

We remember the dead, we call them heroes, not because they died, but because they lived in service to the greater good. And we know that's small comfort for those who lost family members and dear friends. To you this tragedy is of course very personal and our thoughts and our prayers are with you. We will never forget the sacrifices of your loved ones, and we ask God to bless and keep them. We pray for their families, and we also pray for the wisdom, and courage as we face the many challenges to come.

And may God bless America.




MUHAMMAD: Please be seated.

I would like to read for you a few versus from the Koran. "With God's name the merciful benefactor and the merciful redeemer. When the Koran is recited, listen to it with the utmost attention and remain silence that you may receive God's mercy, and do you, oh reader, bring your Lord to remembrance and in the deepest part of your soul, with humility and reverence, without loudness in speech in the morning and the evening, and be amongst those who are mindful. And those who are nearest to their Lord, never refuse to worship him."

From the chapter called the family of Emran, I read "Oh you who believe, persevere and patience and be consistent in such perseverance, and strengthen you one another, and fear God and only God that you may be successful, and surely God has revealed that in which is the truth."

Please rise for the hymn "America the Beautiful."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please give your attention to the screens in front of you for the role call of the lost and missing.

Please be seated.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We are gathered because of what happened here on September 11, events that bring to mind tragedy but also our gratitude to those who came to assist that day and, afterwards, those we saw every day at the Pentagon site, the guards, police, fire and rescue workers, the defense protective service and the hospitals, the Red Cross, chaplains, the family service professionals and volunteers and so many others.

And yet, our reason for being here today is something else. We're gathered here to remember, to console and to pray: to remember comrades and colleagues, friends and family members, those lost to us on September 11. We remember them as heroes, and we are right to do so. They died because, in the words of justification offered by their attackers, 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.

And they died for another reason, the simple fact that they worked here in this building, the Pentagon. It is seen as a place of power, the locus of command for what has been called the greatest accumulation of military might in history; and yet a might used far differently than the long course of history has usually known.

In the last century, this building existed to oppose two totalitarian regimes that sought to oppress and to rule other nations.

And it is no exaggeration of historical judgment to say that, without this building and those who work here those, two regimes would not have been stopped or thwarted in their oppression of countless millions. But just as those regimes sought to rule and oppress, others in this century seek to do the same by corrupting a noble religion.

Our president has been right to see the similarity and to say that the fault, the evil is the same: It is the will to power, the urge to dominion over others to the point of oppressing them, even to taking thousands of innocent lives or more, and that 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."

In targeting this place then and those who worked here, the attackers, the evildoers correctly sensed that the opposite of all they were and stood for resided here. Those who worked here, those whom on September 11 died here, whether civilian or in uniform, side by side, they sought not to rule but to serve, they sought not to oppress but to liberate. They worked not to take lives but to protect them and they tried not to preempt God but to see to it his creatures lived as he intended, in the light and dignity of human freedom.

Our first task, then, is to remember the fallen as they were or as they would have wanted to be remembered: living in freedom, blessed by it, proud of it and willing like so many others before them and like so many today, to die for it and to remember them as believers in the heroic idea for which this nation stands and for which this building exists, the idea of service to country and to others.

Beyond all this, their deaths remind us of a new kind of evil, the evil of a threat and menace through which this nation and the world has now been fully awakened because of them. In causing this awakening, then, the terrorists have assured their own destruction. And those we mourn today have, in the moment of their death, assured their own triumph over hate and fear.

For out of this act of terror and the awakening it brings here and across the globe will surely come a victory over terrorism, a victory that one day may save millions from the harm of weapons of mass destruction. And this victory, their victory, we pledge today.

But if we gather here to remember them, we are also here to console. To console those who shared their lives, those who loved them. And yet the irony is that those whom we have come to console have given us the best of all consolations by reminding us not only of the meaning of the deaths, but of the lives of their loved ones.

"He was a hero long before this 11th of September," said a friend of one of those we've lost, "a hero every single day. A hero to his family, to his friends and to his peers." A veteran of the Gulf War, hardworking, he showed up at the Pentagon at 3:30 in the morning and then headed home in the early afternoon to be with his children, all of whom he loved dearly, but one of whom he gave very special care and love, because she needs very special care and love. About him and those who served with him, his wife said, "It is not just when a plane hits the building, they are heroes everyday."

Heroes every day. We're here to affirm that and to do this on behalf of America, and also to say to those who mourn, who have lost loved ones, known that the heart of America is here today, that it speaks to each one of you words of sympathy, consolation, compassion and love, and all the love that is the heart of America, and the great heart it is, can muster.

Watching and listening today Americans everywhere are saying, I'm sure, I wish I could be there to tell them how sorry we are, how much we grieve and to tell them, too, how thankful we are for those they loved. A Marine captain in trying to explain why there could be no human explanation for a tragedy such as this once said, "You would think it would break the heart of God."

We stand today in the midst of tragedy, the mystery of tragedy, yet a mystery that is part of that larger awe and wonder that causes us to bow our head in faith and say of those we mourn, those we have lost, the words of Scripture; "Lord, now let Thy servants go in peace. Thy Word has been fulfilled."

To the families and friends of our fallen colleagues and comrades, we extend our deepest sympathy, our condolences and those of the American people. We pray that God will give some share of the peace that now belongs to those we lost, to those who knew and loved them in life. But as we grieve together, we are also thankful; thankful for their lives, thankful for the time we had them with us and proud, too, as proud as they were that they lived their lives as Americans.

We are mindful, too, and resolute that their deaths, like their lives, shall have meaning. That the birthright of human freedom, a birthright that was theirs as Americans and for which they died, will always be ours and our children's and through our efforts and our example one day the birthright of every man, woman and child on earth.





President and Senator Clinton, thank you all for being here.

We have come here to pay our respects to 125 men and women who died in the service of America. We also remember 64 passengers on a hijacked plane, those men and women, boys and girls who fell into the hands of evildoers and also died here exactly one month ago.

On September 11th, 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. That work began the moment we were attacked, and it will continue until justice is delivered.

Americans are returning, as we must, to the normal pursuits of life.


Americans are returning, as we must, to the normal pursuits of life, but we know that, if you lost a son or daughter here or a husband or wife or mom or dad, life will never again be as it was. The loss was sudden and hard and permanent, so difficult to explain, so difficult to accept: three school children traveling with their teacher; an Army general, a budget analyst who reported to work here for 30 years; a lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserve, who left behind a wife, a four-year-old son and another child on the way.

One life touches so many others. One death can leave sorrow that seems almost unbearable. But to all of you who lost someone here, I want to say: You are not alone. The American people will never forget the cruelty that was done here and in New York and in the sky over Pennsylvania. We will never forget all the innocent people killed by the hatred of a few. We know the loneliness you feel in your loss. The entire nation -- the entire nation -- shares in your sadness. And we pray for you and your loved ones. And we will always honor their memory.

The hijackers were instruments of evil who died in vain. Behind them is a cult of evil which seeks to harm the innocent and thrives on human suffering. Theirs is the worse kind of cruelty. The cruelty that is fed not weakened by tears. Theirs is the worse kind of violence, pure malice while daring to claim the authority of God. We cannot fully understand the designs and power of evil. It is enough to know that evil, like goodness, exists. And in the terrorists, evil has found a willing servant.

In New York, the terrorists chose as their target a symbol of America's freedom and confidence. Here they struck a symbol of our strength in the world. And the attack on the Pentagon on that day was more symbolic than they knew. It was on another September 11, September 11, 1941, that construction on this building first began.

America was just then awakening to another menace, the Nazi terror in Europe. And on that very night, President Franklin Roosevelt spoke to the nation. The danger, he warned, has long ceased to be a mere possibility. The danger is here now not only from a military enemy, but from an enemy of all law, all liberty, all morality, all religion. For us, too, in the year 2001 an enemy has emerged that rejects every limit of law, morality and religion.

The terrorists have no true home in any country or culture or faith. They dwell in dark corners of earth, and there, we will find them. This week I have called...


This week, I have called the Armed Forces into action. One by one, we are eliminating power centers of a regime that harbors Al Qaeda terrorists. We gave that regime a choice: Turn over the terrorists or face your ruin. They choose unwisely.


The Taliban regime has brought nothing but fear and misery to the people of Afghanistan.

These rulers call themselves holy men, even with their record of drawing money from heroin trafficking. They consider themselves pious and devout, while subjecting women to fierce brutality.

The Taliban has allied itself with murderers and gave them shelter. But today, for Al Qaeda and the Taliban, there is no shelter.


As Americans did 60 years ago, we have entered a struggle of uncertain duration. But now, as then, we can be certain of the outcome, because we have a number of decisive assets.

We have a unified country. We have the patience to fight and win on many fronts: blocking terrorist plans, seizing their funds, arresting their networks, disrupting their communications, opposing their sponsors.

And we have one more great asset in this cause: the brave men and women of the United States military.


From my first days in this office, I have felt and seen the strong spirit of the armed forces.

I saw it at Fort Stewart, Georgia, when I first reviewed our troops as commander-in-chief and looked into the faces of proud and determined soldiers.

I saw it in Annapolis on a graduation day; at Camp Pendleton in California; Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo. And I have seen this spirit at the Pentagon before and after the attack on this building.

You've responded to a great emergency with calm and courage. And for that, your country honors you. A commander-in-chief must know -- must know -- that he can count on the skill and readiness of service men and women at every point in the chain of command. You have given me that confidence, and I give you these commitments.

The wound to this building will not be forgotten, but it will be repaired. Brick by brick, we will quickly rebuild the Pentagon.


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.


And I pledge to you that America will never relent on this war against terror.


There will be times of swift dramatic action. There will be times of steady, quiet progress. Over time, with patience and precision, the terrorists will be pursued. They will be isolated, surrounded, cornered until there is no place to run or hide or rest.


As military and civilian personnel in the Pentagon, you are an important part of the struggle we have entered. You know the risks of your calling, and you have willingly accepted them. You believe in our country, and our country believes in you.


Within sight of this building is Arlington Cemetery, the final resting place of many thousands who died for our country over the generations.

Enemies of America have now added to these graves, and they wish to add more. Unlike our enemies, we value every life and we mourn every loss, yet we're not afraid. Our cause is just and worthy of sacrifice.

Our nation is strong of heart, is firm at purpose, inspired by all the courage that has come before. We will meet our moment, and we will prevail.

May God bless you all.


And may God bless America.

REAR ADM. LOUIS IASIELLO, U.S. MARINE CORPS CHAPLAIN: We know follow the example of people all over the world, people of many nationalities, many tongues, many creeds, as we bow our heads and pray.

Loving and merciful God, at this moment of human suffering and profound spiritual need, people of faith everywhere have turned to you and you have heard their cries for help, and so, Lord, we pray that you continue to heal those that are broken, continue to heal those that have suffered great personal loss, and continue to touch those who lack hope, that the healing touch of your hand will make them whole again.

Today we ask in a special way that you watch over our servicemen and women who are now deployed in harm's way throughout the world. We lift up for your protection, our soldiers, our sailors, our Marines, our Cost Guardsmen, our airmen, our sentinels of justice and our guardians of freedom, who stand ready to defend freedom and uphold the values that guided our great land for centuries, inspire those who must lead our nation, continue to grant them the wisdom and moral courage to meet the demands of their great office in the trials of leadership that lie ahead, empower them to build a world of justice, peace, and security and hope for all peoples everywhere.

And finally, Lord, bless and strengthen our great nation that in our hour of need she might remain beacon of hope and a tower of strength to all who seek justice, all who love freedom, and all who desire peace.

For with you, Lord, all things are possible, and it is in your name we pray in. Amen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today's service. You are reminded to depart the ceremonial area by the same route by which you entered.

WOODRUFF: Twenty thousand people or more gathered at the Pentagon in a ceremony of incomparable sadness, remembering 189 people who perished one month ago today when an American Airline flight with 64 people onboard crashed into the Pentagon, killing 125 people inside that building, military, civilian and contractors as well. We heard President Bush sound a note of defiance at the end, saying America will not relent. We heard Secretary Rumsfeld say these people were heroes every day.

Our military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre is there on the Pentagon parade field -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Judy, a couple of thoughts, moments that struck me during this ceremony. One of course when President Bush mentioned that the tremendous asset the United States has in its men and women of the armed services. That resulted in a spontaneous standing ovation, waving small American flags. Another one was when the president, stern faced, said that terrorist and their supporters will be cornered, will have no place to run, no place to hide, no place to rest, and as he stood there, his jaw locked in a very firm gesture of authority. Almost on cue, a cool breeze blew across the crowd here, almost sent a chill up my spine at that point.

One thing I think we should mention, Judy, as talked about the victims here, you've mention 125 people killed in the building. There were 64 people on that airliner, but 60 of those were innocent victims, four of course were perpetrators of the horrific act of terrorism that resulted in this tragedy, and we keep mentioning the number, 189 people killed. There were 189, of which 185 were honored here today -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for clarifying that, Jamie. And I want to just go back, before we move on to the comment that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld made, Donald Rumsfeld, said "The terrorists by doing this terrible thing, this evil thing, have assured their own destruction, because," he said, "in these deaths, they have assured victory over terrorism, he said his remarks saying the terrorist by doing this terrible thing. This evil thing have assured their own destruction. In these death they have assured victory of over terrorism in the way one day save millions of people from a fear of mass destruction and mass weapons."

Once again, the ceremony at the Pentagon honoring those that lost their lives one month ago.




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