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tv   A Nation Remembers  CBS  May 29, 2011 10:30am-11:30am PDT

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>> this is the heart of the pentagon, in washington, d.c. since the early years of world war ii, this building has been the home of america's department of defense. it's one of the largest office buildings in the world. about 23,000 people come here to work every day. a good many of them are not even members of our armed forces-- many are civilian employees from all walks of life. all of them, though, are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. the men and women who travel these halls every day come here for one purpose only: to help defend our nation and the cause of freedom around the world. it's been that way for nearly 70 years. the story you're about to hear today is a story i hope will reach every american, because it's really a story about america, about ordinary american families, about how we face
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the perils, uncertainties, and tragedies of life, and about how we, as individuals and a nation, come together to heal the wounds of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for all that we hold dear. it's a story of reflection, remembrance, and renewal. it's also a story about hope for the future. >> and i remember--you know, some days my wife would be sitting here, and just the fact that her presence-- that's all i wanted, was just her presence. we didn't have to say anything, the fact that i knew that she was there and i was over here, that's all i cared about. nothing else. that i knew that she was here. >> the other two came home, and i made sure they got some good food, you know, stuffed 'em as much as i could, with anything they'd eat,
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figuring that they wouldn't be eating a lot for a while. and, um... then told 'em. and i will never forget that day. especially my youngest. brady just looked dazed. but you could just see kelsey change... it was like the light in her eyes just left. and i've never heard a child... that before. >> it was... i think it was the worst day of my life. and i'm hoping that-- that they will use... the way jan, uh... ( choking up )... jan lived...
10:33 am a model to bring up their children. narrator: on a plot of land in arlington, virginia, overlooking our nation's capital, the grass is growing again. trees have been planted that bloom in newness of life each spring. the wall has been rebuilt. as if in silent honor, for the briefest of moments each evening, the setting sun itself pays tribute with a golden light pouring forth on what is now hallowed ground for all of america. rosemary dillard: we wanted some way to ensure that all of the victims murdered that day... they were never forgotten.
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>> in the night sky, the radiance of 184 illuminations of remembrance shimmer in the darkness in honor of 184 men, women and children whose lives were extinguished in an instant on a hauntingly beautiful fall morning. >> the last six, seven years have been absolutely surreal. in one minute, it seems like it was in another lifetime... when michele was here. in another minute, it seems like it was just 30 seconds ago. >> seven years later, thousands of americans come together to join hands with the wives, the husbands, the children and the grandchildren, the parents
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and the grandparents, of the 184 who perished that day. for on this day, from the ashes of death and destruction, a living memorial has arisen to not only mark one of the most tragic events in all of american history, but to stand eternally in honor and remembrance of those who paid so dear a price for our freedom, and their courageous families who carry on their legacy. this is the pentagon memorial, america's first national memorial to those who died on september 11, 2001. while it stands in remembrance of all those who lost their lives that tragic morning, it also stands in living testament to their families who, year after year, are bravely and quietly piecing their lives back together.
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this, then, is their story. and while it is a story of painful remembrance and unresolved suffering, it is also a story of renewal and perseverance and hope, in the greatest tradition of the american spirit. >> ♪ ,,,,,,,,
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>> ♪ >> narrator: there are over 160 monuments and memorials in our nation's capital, dating back to the founding of america. some honor a select few men and women who shaped our country and helped define who we are as a nation today... generals, political leaders, poets, statesmen, and scientists who changed the course of american history. some raised the hopes and aspiration of a nation unique in all the world. others set forth the values
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and ideals on which our republic was based, and to which we would aspire for generations to come. still others honor ordinary americans who, through their courage, dedication, and commitment, made extraordinary contributions to america and the cause of freedom around the world. many left their families and the comfort and security of home to unselfishly answer the call when their nation needed them most, and fought and died for all that we hold dear today. virtually all span the great history of america, commemorating events and individuals of our distant past. one, however, is unique among all the rest, for it represents the defining moment for this generation of americans.
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>> years from now, i hope they understand that what happened on that terrible day, that an enemy came with airplanes full of innocent people to kill americans in order for us to abandon our great desire to help others realize the blessings of liberty. >> i hosted a breakfast, i believe, at seven or eight, seven-thirty or eight, for members of congress, republican and democrat, and i can remember saying to them at this breakfast, probably just about the time the first plane hit the world trade center tower, that something was going to happen in america, in six months, twelve months, eighteen months, nobody knows when, that will register in a way that they will want to have
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supported sufficient defense investment in our country. >> the morning of september 11, the darkest day in american history, came in like a lamb and went out like a lion. it was a warm, sunny morning in washington, d.c., just as it was in new york city and all along the eastern seaboard, typical of that time of year when the dog days of august give way to a hint of the cool, crisp air that comes to rest on the city every fall. most who were there remember, above all, the clear, blue sky. almost prophetically, the deep, cloudless blue had an undefinable radiance that many years later remains a hauntingly vivid memory to those who lived through september 11. it was, quite simply, a regular tuesday morning just like any other,
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filled with morning rituals like every other tuesday-- getting kids off to school, driving to work in the often-grueling traffic of washington, d.c., hopping on the metro and hoping to beat the morning rush. for some, the morning was filled with expectancy as they drove to the airport to embark on a long-awaited vacation. young asia cottom, rodney dickens and bernard brown were brimming with excitement as they had been selected from a group of 6th-graders to fly all the way to california with their teachers for a national geographic conference. >> the day was just a normal day, and bill went off to work, i got the kids to school, and... >> she banished me from driving because she claimed that my driving, i was reckless. so she drove that morning... >> ...a hug, and he went on, we said we were gonna meet at the mall for dinner... >> marjorie salamone worked late the night before and was tired as she kissed
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her husband ben good-bye and left for work that tuesday morning. >> i noticed that here dress was open in the back. and so i looked at that and i just thought, "i wonder if she knows that her dress is open in the back." so i said something to her about it and she said, "oh, yeah, i know about it," and i said, "oh, okay." and i think that might have been the last thing we said, i just don't remember. >> nobody knew what lay ahead. >> man: they turned off the transponder and dove the airplane down to guide it below radar... >> woman: ...on the screen... >> ( sirens wailing ) >> ...we see the first plane hit the first tower. >> man: ...the second tower... >> woman: and then they said, "the pentagon's been hit." >> woman: she said, it's flight 77, " and then i grabbed her, and then i said, "eddie was on flight 77."
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>> rumsfeld: ...anyone in the building felt the impact, it was so powerful. >> woman: i look in the sky... and i remember that smoke. >> man: ....the pentagon, quite clearly you could see black smoke rising up, it was just awful. >> bernard salamone: and i said, "my wife works there," and i hadn't...( choking up )... ...i hadn't heard from her. >> woman: i got out the office roster and started calling people: "have you heard from anybody?" >> and then next i checked the voicemail, and there was about 30 messages on the voicemail, and i started going down, and i was hoping that jan had called, and then when i got down to three, my hope started dwindling. >> bush: as long as the united
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states of america is determined and strong, this will not be an age of tyranny. this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world. >> americans awoke on september 12, 2001, with the realization that our nation was changed forever. we were living in a new world, with history broken into the pre-9/11 era and the post-9/11 era. >> gen. richard myers: there probably wasn't any other event that made us understand as a nation that we're all linked in so many different ways... that we all play a role in our security, in our well-being, in the well-being of the republic. >> well, 9/11 drove home the point that we are part of the world and can't separate ourselves from it by our oceans, that we have to be engaged in
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the world, hopefully smartly, not just militarily, although we must be strong. but also we must be wise, we must engage with others. >> sen. joseph lieberman: on 9/11/01 america changed, obviously. we lost about 3,000 of our fellow americans, but we also, in some sense, lost our innocence. >> i think what changed on september 11 for so many americans was the fact that it was brought home, and we realized the vulnerability that we face. but the purpose of terror, of course, is not to necessarily kill people, although that's part of it; it's to terrorize. the purpose of terrorism is to alter people's behavior, and therefore the most vulnerable people in the world are free people. >> bush: we recognized with absolute clarity that there is an enemy, that has a set of beliefs, that would like to do
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us harm to achieve their objectives. i think the nation became more compassionate on that day, the nation became more united on that day, and the nation became more determined on that day. ,, ,,
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>> ( jet roars overhead ) >> it all happened here... the point of impact. on september 11, 2001, a direct attack on american soil signaled the birth of an entirely new world. what followed was a surge in patriotism not seen since pearl harbor, with flags on every street corner and signs posted almost everywhere that proclaimed, "god bless america." enormous benefit concerts took place on both coasts, and america was left with a new kind of 21st century hero: the first responder. for a time, our deeply divided country was one again.
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>> bush: after 9/11, after we resolved that we would defend ourselves, came this great wave of patriotism, where there's a great sense of pride about what we stood for. i'll never forget going to new york and seeing that-- on the one hand, compassion for their fellow citizens, and for the families that were suffering; on the other hand, this great sense of resolve and determination to stand strong in the face of this enemy. >> a sense of coming together, i guess, i think is the best way to describe it. it was a sentiment that extended across party lines in the congress, house and senate, democrat and republican pulled together. millions of people visited those sites in succeeding months, focused on them in one way or another, focused on those
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events, and it was a national experience to some extent like pearl harbor, that it had that kind of unifying effect on the nation. >> the tragedy of 9/11 pulled america together and showed us what we really should appreciate every day as we squabble politically or there are other divisions in our country, that we're all part of the american family, we share common values, we share common dreams for ourselves, our families, and our country. the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 didn't distinguish between republicans or democrats, or white or black, or christian, jewish, muslim; their victims were all of those, and more. we will lose our strength unless we recapture our fundamental unity as americans;
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there's nothing more important than that. >> but 9/11 sort of brought that out in us, that, "gee, we're all in this together." this hurt all of us. this hurt wall street, this hurt our military, this hurt us as a nation, it hurt our international friends who were here with us; it had all these different impacts of all sorts. i think our resolve was stronger right after 9/11 than probably ever before. although we were uncertain, some were afraid; some people never ride airplanes anymore, it took five or six years for some businesses to recover from the impact of 9/11, but the resolve was always pretty clear, and i think that was felt throughout the majority of our population. >> joyce rumsfeld: facing the reality of what happened and then feeling the strength of the country and the... how together we were; i mean, that's a powerful feeling. for those in positions of
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responsibility, that is a gift, to receive that from your country. >> shortly after the attacks, the pentagon renovation team set forth on an ambitious plan to rebuild the pentagon in one year, a dramatic symbol of our national resolve and a visible reminder that america could not be defeated. but in time, our old divisions took hold again, and many of the flags were put away. as a nation, we moved back into our own lives, lives somehow changed by 9/11, but no longer defined by the tragedy and our national response to it. but not everybody was able to move on. for some, the tragedy of september 11 is as real today as it was then.
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>> lisa dolan: moving on... i don't know why, just for me, "moving on" denotes leaving bob behind, and moving on, going someplace without him. i prefer the term "moving forward" because it doesn't, to me, have the same feel or sound of leaving my husband behind. >> elaine donovan: for us, there is no happy ending; there is no ending. it's just, 9/11 is this... i don't even know how to
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describe it; it is part of you, if you don't learn to manage it you're not going to do well. it never goes away, there will never be a day that i don't think about it, i don't think about bill; there will never be a 9/11 that i can walk through my day and go, "wow, 20 years ago today my husband died." you realize it's just a part of your life, and that's just the way it is. >> narrator: of those who perished at the pentagon on 9/11, only 55 were members of the military. seventy others were civilians working at or visiting the pentagon, and 59 were killed while flying on american airlines flight 77. for the families of the 184 men, women and children lost at the pentagon, their lives and the lives of their children can
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never go back to normal. >> ♪ there are no words ♪ there is no song ♪ is there a balm ♪ that can heal these wounds ♪ that will last ♪ a lifetime long ♪ and when the stars ♪ have burned to dust ♪ hand in hand ♪ we still will stand ♪ because we must
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♪ in one single hour ♪ in one single day ♪ we were changed forever ♪ something taken away ♪ and there is no fire ♪ that can melt ♪ this heavy stone ♪ that can bring back ♪ the voices ♪ and the spirits ♪ of our own ♪ there are no words ♪ there is no song ♪ is there a balm ♪ that can heal these wounds ♪ that will last ♪ a lifetime long ♪ and when the stars ♪ have burned to dust ♪ hand in hand
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♪ we still will stand ♪ because we must ♪ all the brothers ♪ sisters and lovers ♪ all the friends ♪ that are gone ♪ all the chairs ♪ that will be empty ♪ in the lives ♪ that will go on ♪ can we ever forgive ♪ though we never will forget ♪ we believe in the milk ♪ of human goodness yet ♪ there are no words ♪ there is no song ♪ is there a balm ♪ that can heal these wounds ♪ that will last ♪ a lifetime long ♪ and when the stars
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♪ have burned to dust ♪ hand in hand ♪ we still will stand ♪ because we must ♪ we were forged in freedom ♪ we were born in liberty ♪ we came here to stop ♪ the twisted arrows ♪ cast by tyranny ♪ and we won't bow down ♪ we are strong of heart ♪ we are a chain together ♪ that won't be pulled apart ♪ there are no words ♪ there is no song ♪ is there a balm ♪ that can heal these wounds ♪ that will last
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♪ a lifetime long ♪ and when the stars ♪ have burned to dust ♪ hand in hand ♪ we still will stand ♪ because we must ♪ ♪ ,,,,,,,, ♪ ♪
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>> as americans, we tend to like our stories neatly packaged, with a clear beginning, middle, and of course,
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a happy ending. the tragedy of 9/11 doesn't fit into our notions of what makes a good story-- there will never be the modern idea of closure. for some, 9/11 is and will remain very much unresolved. but with this lack of resolution, life goes on. as one pentagon family member put it, "life is for the living." and in the wake of 9/11, through the completion of the pentagon memorial, signs of life can be found everywhere. at its core, the pentagon memorial is a story of how a nation takes care of its own. >> wendy ploger: i felt a need to dedicate my energies towards something positive, towards something that i think could alleviate the pain
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from everyone, including myself. and i just happened to see an ad in the paper; it wasn't an ad, but more of sort of this idea of a memorial, and there was a name in the article, and i e-mailed the person and asked if i could be a part of this in some small way. >> dawn schlegel: i think it was not long after his funeral, and i remembered sort of feeling like, "wow, if there is a possibility to participate in something positive, out of all the terrible things that are going on and all the bad feelings," i remember saying, "gee, this might be something to try to contribute in a tiny way." >> james laychak: i want people to remember dave, i want people to know what he was about, and i want people to remember him as a person. and i want to have a place to go
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to that i can think about this. >> michael donley: building a memorial here at the pentagon in honor of those victims, in remembrance of the events of september 11, and of the significance of all that for the pentagon, for this department of defense headquarters, gives this 9/11 memorial a very special character. >> narrator: in the weeks following 9/11, the nation wrapped its arms around the families of the victims. as one family member put it, "among the most amazing things that came out of that terrible tragedy was americans coming together; strangers comforting each other, risking their lives for each other." meg falk was the director of the office of family policy at the time, and was working in the pentagon when the plane hit on 9/11.
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in the days and weeks that followed, she played a central role in reaching out to the families in turmoil. >> this a tradition within the military, that whenever we have multiple fatalities we set up a place where families can go to get accurate information, to get support, to have childcare, so that the surviving family members can deal with the business they need to handle at a horrible time in their lives. >> by the next morning, the family assistance center was up and running at a nearby hotel. for the next 30 days, the pentagon operated the center around the clock, providing families with meals, support, and most importantly, information. >> bernard salamone: it was wonderful. i mean, if we asked for something, it was made available to us. calling cards; how many times
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did we get calling cards? they must have loaded us up with calling cards. they just didn't know what else to do for us. the american people were just extremely kind to us... extremely kind to us. >> it was during the course of those daily family briefings that an idea began to circulate: to build something good on top of the evil they had experienced; to lay down the foundations for a memorial that would reach long into the future and serve as both a legacy for the living and a means of preserving the stories of 9/11 and the memory of those who died. >> at the end of every briefing there was a chance for people to ask questions, and a predominant question that first week, 'cause i started going the 15th of september, was, how are we going to remember this? they started talking about memorializing this. and i started thinking to myself, "what if five years from now someone's driving by the
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pentagon and they can't even remember what side was hit?" >> the very process of coming together proved to be a source of healing for the families as they struggled to make sense of their new worlds in the aftermath of the horrible tragedy. as the family members began to come forward one by one to support the project, the official call was put forth for designs for the new pentagon memorial. on june 28, 2002, the group released a mission statement calling upon the country to help determine how to best remember that day, and the men, women and children lost at the pentagon. "we ask that you search your souls and envision a memorial that inspires visitors to contemplate what the attack means to them personally, to us as family members, to the community, to the country, and to the world.
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visitors should comprehend that our loved ones were murdered simply because they were living and working in and enjoying the benefits of a free society. the memorial should instill the ideas that patriotism is a moral duty, that freedom comes at a price, and that the victims of this attack have paid the ultimate price. we challenge you," the statement concluded, "to create a memorial that translates this terrible tragedy into a place of solace, peace, and healing." ♪ [ ukulele strumming ] ,
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♪ [ folksy whistling ] [ man ] quitting is a fight you can't let yourself lose. it can take many tries. but keep trying, you will beat smoking. honey, you okay? yeah, i'm fine. ♪ [ ukulele ] >> it's been said that the character of a nation is forged not in tragedy, but in its response to tragedy. as such, the story of the pentagon memorial is a story of hope and inspiration.
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it is part of the healing both for the nation and for the families of the 184 men, women and children lost here that day. the memorial represents a nation that, while never forgetting, maintains a conviction to build hope where once there was only despair, peace where once there was only conflict, and a future where once we saw only an ending. >> james laychak: it's an individual memorial, it's a collective memorial, and in a very eloquent way kind of tells a story about what happened there. the family members, when we talked about this, we said we wanted a place that would make people think, but not tell them what to think. >> wendy ploger: we were looking for a deeper meaning. we liked the feeling of going to a place and experiencing it in our own way. >> narrator: by september 2002,
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more than 1100 designs were submitted from around the world for the pentagon memorial. after much review, in february 2003 the jury panel settled on a design by keith kaseman and july beckman, two young architects from philadelphia. in time, the design would become america's first national 9/11 memorial, built on the very site of the crash of american airlines flight 77. support for the memorial came forth from the entire country. major american corporations joined hands with key international partners and individual american donors, some of whom gave even a small contribution from savings to see that the attack on the pentagon was never forgotten. at a foundry outside st. louis, missouri, custom molds and metal alloys were created that would form the 184 individual
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benches on display throughout the memorial. steel fired at over 3,000 degrees would ultimately be crafted into individual tributes designed to last for generations to come. as would be expected, every detail of the pentagon memorial is deliberate and helps tell a part of the overall story. >> right off the bat we decided to try to figure out a way to invite interpretation; put enough clues, enough hints and clues into this place that would make one pause for a second, and a place to just contemplate. the act of contemplation at this place is, in and of itself, a way to pay respect. >> the memorial consists of 184 individual cantilevered benches perched above a shimmering pool of water,
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each bearing a single victim's name. >> a hundred and eighty-four unique individuals lost their lives here going about their daily lives, and we wanted to really emphasize both the individual nature of each of those people, as well as the collective nature of the event that took place here. >> the benches themselves are spread across a two-acre plot of land, and distributed, according to the age of the victims, across the exact path of american flight 77, into the point where it struck the western wall of the pentagon. each bench is positioned to tell a story of who each person was and how they died. the names of those who died inside the pentagon can be read with the rebuilt wall itself in the background, and those who died on the airplane face
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the other direction, and can be viewed with a backdrop of the sky. the entire park is divided by age lines representing the birth years of the victims on 9/11. on either end of the memorial, lone benches represent the youngest, dana falkenberg, who was only three years old at the time, and on the opposite side, the oldest, john yamnicky, who was 71. >> the minute you walk over that entrance, you walk over this age line, and it brings you back to 9/11, and... and the first bench you see is dana falkenberg, and she's three years old. and you kind of think, "oh, my gosh, she's a little three-year-old girl. she died on that day."
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and then there's a few more benches, a few more children, and then there's this big, empty area, and then there's young men, late twenties, early thirties, and to me, that's hugely powerful. and you walk through there, and first you see the children, and then you go, "what is with that?" and then, "what are these lines?" and it gets people thinking about, "why are they spaced this way? oh, this person is 20, this guy is 35." and then they notice the benches are facing a different way, and why is that? and then they can figure that out just by walking through the park. but i think the most powerful thing is... is just entering the park, stepping over that line that says, "9/11, 2001, 9:37 a.m." ,,,,,,,,,,
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>> the wisdom of the ages tells us that time is the great healer. perhaps this is one of the mysteries and miracles of life itself, that as the days and months and years roll out, the shock of the tragedy and the intensity of the loss, the unrelenting despair and hopelessness, gives way to remembrance, to renewal, and to hope for the future. >> narrator: within the boundaries of the pentagon memorial, we can read the story not merely of a single terrible day in american history, but we are reminded of the great lessons we can see in each story represented there. for as it so often does, from tragedy has arisen a point of triumph, a recognition of the enduring human spirit and the
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reflections of a nation at large. but for all the wisdom gained through the trials of september 11, there is something of a question mark at the end of the story, a question that will perhaps never be answered with words; rather with an understanding that the pentagon memorial is above all an attempt to make the best of a tragic situation, a quiet understanding that at the heart of the memorial is loss, and that loss is not diminished with time. perhaps when all is said and done, the best our nation can hope for is that through the lives taken on september 11, and the sacrifices of those who built the pentagon memorial, there is a bigger story and a legacy that can impact us all, and that this single day will not be relegated to history, that both the loss and the tremendous spirit to push forward will inspire future
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generations to think of their lives and their freedom a bit more highly than they did before. it was in that spirit that seven years later, on the morning of september 11, 2008, the world was again drawn together on that plot of ground overlooking our nation's capital; this time to dedicate the pentagon memorial. as thousands gathered, and millions across america and around the world watched in solemn remembrance, the new memorial was unveiled. people from all walks of life were there: young and old, rich and poor, government leaders, military leaders, foreign dignitaries, americans from every social and ethnic group, from big cities and small towns, visitors young and old from all over the world, all united in purpose
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and spirit. the words spoken were those of remembrance... >> he was a great brother and a loyal friend. he was a good man. >> words of reflection... >> this morning we gather to dedicate this ground where a great building became a battlefield, where stone became dust, steel became shrapnel... where flames, smoke and destruction stole the lives of 184 men, women and children. >> words of hope and inspiration... >> the pentagon memorial will stand as an everlasting tribute to 184 innocent souls who perished on these grounds. the benches here bear each of their names... and beneath each bench is a shimmering pool filled with the water of life.
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a memorial can never replace what those of you mourning a loved one have lost. we pray that you will find some comfort amid the peace of these grounds. we pray that you will find strength in knowing that our nation will always grieve with you. >> and at the very hour and minute of the tragedy seven years earlier, there were no words at all. throughout the crowds that day were the men and women of the pentagon, the civilian and military personnel who every day are on duty, dedicating themselves to the defense of america. they were there on that day in september 2001, they lived through it; and they were there on this day seven years later. so, too, in the crowds were the families of those whose lives
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were sacrificed that day, the husbands and wives, the sons and daughters, the mothers and fathers, for this was really their day, their day to remember, to reflect, and to gain some sense of renewal. because for the families, the memorial is above all an assurance that their loved ones will not be forgotten. it is a place they can go for generations to remember and reflect, and perhaps on some quiet evening, long after the crowds have returned home and when the cameras have been put away, a place they can sit quietly and somehow find a measure of comfort in the presence of those they miss so much. that's what the pentagon memorial is all about. ,,,,,,,,
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