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Pentagon Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery

Aired September 12, 2002 - 09:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We take you straight to Arlington National Cemetery, where a ceremony is under way to honor those who lost their lives at the Pentagon.
Let's listen to the prayer for a moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... with a steadfast patience.

We thank you for being the light which shines into the deepest darkness of our days, and that light we persevere and renew our strength, mounting up as on eagle's wings.

We're grateful that you will never forget those who were lost. Neither will you forsake those who wait upon you until eternity dawns with life and immortality. And so we wait even now in hope, knowing that you hold us in our merciful compassion.

This we pray in your holy name. Amen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, be seated. The reading from Old Testaments today comes from 139th Psalm. "Oh, lord you have searched me and you know me. You know when I set and when I rise. You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all of my ways. Before a word on my tongue you know it completely, oh, Lord. You hand me in behind and before. You have laid our hand on me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to obtain. Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence. If I go to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even their, your hand will guide my and your right hand will hold me fast. Search me oh, God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me. And lead me in the way everlasting."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reading this morning from the New Testament is taken from Romans the eighth chapter. "What then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who be can against us? He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? Who is he that condemns? Christ, Jesus who died. More than that, who is raised to life. Is it the right hand of God, and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble, or hardship, persecution, or famine, or nakedness or dangerous sword, as it is written?

"For your sake, we face death all day long. We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. Know in all of these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us, for I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord."

Will you please stand as we unite our voices in singing of amazing grace.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please be seated.

The reading from gospel is taken this morning from "The Gospel According to St. John," the 14th chapter. "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me in my father's house or many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. But I am going there to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again to receive you to myself, that where I am, you, too, may also be. You know the way to the place where I am going."

BRIG. GEN. JAMES T. SPIVEY JR.: We gather today at a most sacred site. This magnificent memorial of stone and steel is a place of reverence and peace, the very heart and soul of the nation, a place of silence and rest. Yet, these stones awaken today. They rise up to speak and bear witness to the world. This amphitheater echoes the collective grieving of a mourning nation. Row upon row, the burial markers that surround us, this sea of crosses and stars all around us, with measures silence, they weather the seasons, biding their time, holding their peace, waiting patiently on the periphery of a fast- paced world that often is too busy to pause and remember.

Today, they are transformed. No longer pillars of mute stone, they step forth as living testimonies from past generation to call us to national remembrance. They stand as reminders, these memorials, that evil and tyranny still lurk in the hearts of wicked men. They remind us that evil does not discriminate between victims. Our loss confirms this.

Nobody on September the 11th was immune. Our loved ones were from every ethnic background, many religious creeds, both male and female, of every age. Even the innocence of a 3-year-old child was not safe that day when evil conspired to rob us of life.

These monuments remind us that misguided causes still dare to assail our cherished American values of life and liberty, that the price of defending those values remains extraordinarily high. This is all the more painful, knowing that for this very reason, you have suffered unfathomable loss, because your loves ones have paid that price. These good, these brave, these true patriots, they spent their lifeblood for liberty.

Today we consecrate a new monument. It also speaks, it really cries out, do not forget, do not forget, America, forever remember these whom we honor today. They were all great Americans. They were at their appointed places of duty when our nation was attacked. They courageously refused to abandon their posts by giving their last.


ZAHN: Now back to Arlington National Cemetery.

SPIVEY: Remember, today on this hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery, we as your family, this band of brothers and sisters, make this promise to you, we will never forget. We will steadfastly hold the memory of your loved once as a sacred trust, and we will forever cherish their sacrifices made on our behalf.

The monument we dedicate today stand guardian to that pledge. Yet, just as the apostle Paul has told us in his letter to the Corinthians, "You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men. Written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living god, not on tablets of stone, but on the tablets of human hearts. Stone memorials erode and inscriptions fade away, but pledges of the heart abide forever. Our promise is from the heart.

The sacrifice that your loved ones made was from the heart, and so our promise from the heart and their sacrifice from the heart bear witness to future generations that the character of our nation is measured by the devotion of its patriots.


SPIVEY: ... compassion of the Lord is perfect. He is afflicted with our afflictions. He is touched by the feeling of our infirmities. In every circumstance, his grace is sufficient for us and his strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Some things in this life make very little sense. The tragedy and consequences of September 11th rank at the very top of that the list of those things that just do not make sense. So we grope for answers.

From the canyons of the mind, we wonder on and stumble blindly through an awful tangled maze of starless night and sun-less days. And when we ask for a clue or road to lead us to the truth, who will answer? There are no easy answers. Scripture again reminds us that now we see through a glass darkly, and only in glory will be we able fully to understand many things, and this is one of them. In the meantime, we trust in the Lord.

The words of Charles Tinley (ph) and B.B. McKinley (ph) ring true at this point. "Trials dark on every hand, and we cannot understand all of the ways that God would lead us to that promised land, but he will guide us with his eye, and we'll follow until we die. We will understand it better by and by. Oft our cherished plans have failed, disappointments have prevailed, and we have wondered in the darkness heavy-hearted and alone, but we're trusting in the Lord. According to his word we will understand, we will understand it better by and by. Until then, we cling by faith to Gods assurance that he cares for us and that he tends our way. He is with us. That is the great shepherd. He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. That whenever two or more of us gather together, he is with us, and in that promise that he give us, that he will be with us until the end of the age."

In fact as we heard, from Psalm 139, "No matter where we go, we cannot escape his presence. When darkness overwhelms us and light around us turns to knight, he can turn night bright as day."

One year ago, the darkness of night descend on us like a blanket of evil. But remember, he will deliver us, for his light has shined in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

This makes the words of "Taps" all of more meaningful. "Fading light, dims the site, and the star gems the sky gleaning bright. From afar drawing nigh falls the might. Day is done, gone sun, from the lake, from the hills, from the sky. All is well safely rest, God is nigh. God is nigh. God is sufficient, but we are not. This highlights fact that we, your friends, are but human. Our ability to comfort so very limited.

This is especially true when we reach out to you, especially to you the families of Dana Falkenberg, Ronald Golinski, Ronald Hemenway, James Lynch, and Rhonda Rasmussen. Oh, how we prayed with you last year for them to be identified. Today, we grieve with you even more, because this never happened. Yet we hope it consoles you, that though your loved ones are being buried together, today we are honoring them individually.

Also since your loved ones were Christians, let me share this word of comfort concerning them, first Corinthians 15 tells us no one of us enters Heaven with this physical body, but we will all, we must all be transformed anyway.

In that passage, in verses 44 and 49, God tell us that this body is sewn a natural body, but it has raised a spiritual body. Just as he have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly, and this leads to one the greatest promises of scripture at the end of that chapter, verses 50-57.

Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Because I'll you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet, because the trumpet will sound and the dead shall be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed, for this perishable must put on imperishable and this mortal must put on immortality, but when the perishable will have put on the imperishable and this mortal will has put on immortality, then will come the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. Oh, death, where is your victory? Or death, where is your stage? The sting of death is in sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who gives us victory through our lord Jesus Christ.

So this means that the physical condition of the body at death is really of very little consequence. It will, this body, will be completely and miraculously changed anyway. This also means that despite the sinful acts of evil men on September 11th, death did not have the victory. Just as your loved ones had an identity on this earth, they have a recognizable and perfect identity in Heaven.

Furthermore, you will meet them again some day. First Thessalonians tells us about that great reunion. But we did not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are dead, that you may not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again. Even so, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For the lord himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with a voice from the archangel and with a trumpet. And with the trumpet of God and the dead and Christ shall rise first. Then, we who are alive and remain shall be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord, therefore comfort one another with these words.

Indeed in this we take comfort, and as we just heard from the gospel of John, the Lord has gone to prepare a heavenly place for us and for our loved ones, and he will return and receive us, and we will be with him. Indeed, we can rejoice when we sing, there is a land this is fairer than day, and by faith, we see it afar, for the father waits over the way to prepare a dwelling place there. In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore. Even in darkest, hour we have cause to be thankful.

So before we depart this holy ground, let us pause and give thanks to God for our loved ones, for their lives and the legacy of gifts for which they graced us, for their memories, may they grow stronger and sweeter by God's grace, day by day and not fade with passing time. For our families, unified and strengthened in adversity, for our communities of faith that minister and worship free of tyranny. For our leaders, wise and resolute, for our nation, indivisible, just and free.

For the men and women, uniformed and civilian, who defend her against all enemies foreign and domestic, and for this band of brothers and sisters forged in blood and sealed with sacred honor, and for God's presence and protection, for his mercy and his grace, may they guard your hearts, and your minds as we depart in peace.

LT. CMDR. JOSEPH GOUDREAU, ARMY CHAPLAIN: Let us pray, we thank you, Lord, that you are with us in all of the moments of our lives. We need that reminder from you, father, because there are times when life closes in the around us and we feel afraid and alone. We need to hear you say to us as to your disciples of old, I am with you always.

In this moment of memory, we ask for that assurance of an your presence, your presence with heroes who departed from us, in whose name and memory we gather for this occasion, your presence with their families and loved ones, moving on through life with confidence and faith in the needs of their loss and pain. Your presence with their friends, who in this past year have learned hard lessons about dealing with life and loss. Your presence with each one of us, gathered in warm and solemn recognition of the lives of these heroes.

Yes, Lord, hold them in the palm of your hands, and may they rest in peace.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECY. OF DEFENSE: I am grateful to be here with you to convey my condolences and the condolences of the nation for your sudden and grievous loss that you suffered on September 11 of last year. Those we honor today died here at home, not on a far away battlefield. Indeed, they died within view of this cemetery. Yet, they did die on a battlefield and that battlefield tells us a good deal about the war we are in, this first war of the 21st century.

Their attackers said they died because they were Americans. Put another way, they died because they were part of a nation that believes in freedom. They died because they lived according to a generous creed as is written of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and not the twisted views of those who use a noble religion to try to mask their will to power.

We also know that those we honor today died because of an institution that is a symbol of this generous creed and way of life -- a symbol of military power to be sure, but of power used to right wrong, to do good, to help achieve a more perfect day when nations might live in peace. But until that time comes, the events of September 11 remind us that the forces of freedom are locked in a new type of struggle with those who oppose all that our freedom represents.

As President Bush stated, our task is to provide a response to aggression and terror, to lift the dark threat of violence from our people and from our future. We have no other choice. The advance of human freedom now depends on it.

While there's nothing one of us can do to bring back those loved ones, we can celebrate who they were, how they lived their lives and remember how their lives were lost in a struggle dedicated to the eternal truth of freedom and the human spirit. All this is important to remember. But those of you here today who have lost loved ones know that sometimes this, too, is hard.

When this ceremony is over, you may look again at the memorial, note the name or names that are special to you, take a final moment, have a last word or look or prayer, and then turn and leave this place feeling again the emptiness, thinking again of a tomorrow and a tomorrow and a tomorrow, of an irreplaceable, seemingly endless loss.

And you might say again what so many times this year you may have said to yourselves that we can be grateful for the time we had with them, that we must trust in a loving God who holds them close and affords them now the greatest peace and joy. You might say to yourselves they would have wanted us to remember that life goes on, that we must live each day for them and for yourselves. You may remind yourselves that the memories, so hurtful now, will one day turn beautiful and bring solace and comfort. All this is hard, but it is also true.

Your grief is great, your love is stronger; a love seen so many times this last year: A love of who they were, your family members and friends and, yes, your fellow Americans. Everywhere I've gone the families of those we honor and remember today have urged, do not forget. The president and the American people and our young men and women in uniform have heard you.

And so, today we honor 184 patriots who died at the Pentagon last September 11. We remember with special love the five whose remains were not recovered and their families and friends who were denied the peace that comes with placing loved ones in their final place of rest.

This day these five join the unknown of past wars, even as we pursue the war that is still unfolding. Known and unknown, those resting here were bound in a brotherhood by their heritage. Soldier and civilian alike, they were dedicated to the cause of freedom. Young and old, their lives and their deaths gave birth to a new pride and patriotism that has rekindled the flame of freedom across this land. They will be remembered. We will not forget.

Know that your country shares your sorrow, mourns your loss and prays that God will comfort you.

May God grant them and you his loving peace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you please rise? Oh, Lord, God, our loving heavenly father, we conclude this service now with hearts heavy with loss and grieving. Although a year has past, no amount of time will completely erase the pain of loss we experienced, where we know that the best way to honor our fallen is to continue to live our lives in dignity, honor, and service.

Please, Lord, continue to comfort the grieving as only you can. We are encouraged by the strong pulse beat of America, but our people are resilient. This tragedy has shown that the strong clothe of our pioneer forefathers is still woven in the fabric of American lives. As we depart, we implore to you bless us, not only we gathered in this place, but our fellow Americans around the globe, especially those on duty in distant lands. We know from your word that if you do not guard and watch our country, all our watchmen stay awake in vein.

So I humbly ask your watch care for our nation. May the Lord bless us and keep us, may the Lord make us shine upon us and give grace us to and give us peace.


ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes our worship service. There are limited facilities at the grave site. We have rest rooms downstairs to your right and water points to your left, outside of the amphitheater. We use all transportation, including tour mobiles...

ZAHN: As you can see, that public announcement makes it very clear that first part of this very moving ceremony is over. Secretary Rumsfeld referring to the 184 who lost their lives at the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001, as patriots.

We are trying to do our best to honor the dignity of that ceremony, at the same time keep you apprised of what is going on at the U.N. as many dignitaries arrive in advance of President Bush's speech to the U.N. General Assembly later on this morning.

The president has already arrived. We saw him warmly greeting Kofi Annan. Secretary-general of the U.N. Condoleezza Rice we saw there. Secretary Powell is already inside.

In a very unusual move by the U.N., the text of Kofi Annan's speech was released. We are told he was afraid that it would somehow get lost in all of the publicity surrounding the importance of President Bush's address later today. It is not clear at this hour exactly what the president will ask for. He will lay out strategy and what is called the white paper, that talks about some 19 U.N. resolutions that the Iraqis violated.

The big question at this hour, will the president himself ask for additional resolution. If he does, what he will say and what kind of support will it garner.

Back to Arlington now. We mentioned the first part of the service has concluded. And you will see at some point, a horse-drawn cason (ph), being moved. It will be taken to the burial location, where a five-sided Pentagon shaped memorial with the names of all 184 victims will be there.

Inside the cason (ph), the casket, a single coffin holding the partial remains of some of the 184 people killed here. The earlier service today focusing in on the pain of the five families who never received remains of their relatives killed on that dreadful day.

We are going to go to Bob Franken, who is standing by to help us understand what's going to happen next.

Bob, I've got to say, as most of the nation reflected yesterday, and cried and was impressed by the resilience of the American public, couldn't help but be moved by this very dignified ceremony this morning.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Paula, there is an adage, if you really want to be heard, whisper. And the sorrow that Arlington National cemetery memorializes is the whisper, the whisper of sadness that follows the death no matter how historical.

Now what's going to happen after the defense secretary reminded his audience and others reminded the audience, we will not forget, meaning the United States, will continue to pursue its war against those who are responsible for the deaths of the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Those now will be taken in the coffin, as you pointed out, a horse drawn cason (ph), which will move from the amphitheater, which is rarely used, by the way of the last used in 1950 for a service like this. The coffin will be taken to a site that faces the water, overlooks the Pentagon. As a matter of fact, we are told when the leaves fall from the trees in the winter and the sun is out, a shadow of the Pentagon will actually be on this five-sided memorial. There will be a service, the coffin the contains cremated remains they believe of the five they have never really been able to identify. It will also include remains that other families said want included in this group burial.

One thing I want to do is expand on what the defense secretary said. The officials at Arlington differentiate between services for the unknowns, various monuments for that, and what they call the group burials. The largest group is actually larger than the 184 who will be memorialized here, 250 on board a ship that exploded during World War II in 1945, at Guadal Canal. They have their own group burial site in another part of Arlington. The most recent ones were some commandos from the raid into Iran, trying to free the Iran hostages in 1980. But now, this 184-person memorial joins the sad history that goes with the struggle that United States has waged since its began -- Paula.

ZAHN: All right, Bob Franken, thanks so much. We will be coming back to you as the second portion of this ceremony takes place.




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