Thousands Attend Pentagon 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony

WASHINGTON -- Thousands of people, most of them members of the Pentagon family, gathered on the Phoenix site at the Pentagon, the place were 184 lives were taken a year ago by terrorists aboard American Airlines Flight 77.

It's a place Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called a battlefield, a symbol of America's vulnerability last Sept. 11, but now repaired and transformed into a symbol of resilience, resolve and strength.

President George W. Bush attended the ceremony. In his address, Bush told the gathering, "Today we remember each life. We rededicate this proud symbol and we renew our commitment to win the war that began here."

The ceremony was rich with symbolism. Leading the Pledge of Allegiance were kids from the District's Lecky, Backus and Ketchum schools. One of their classmates and three of their teachers were killed on Flight 77 while heading to a National Geographic Competition.

And there was the unfurling of a flag, a flag that was retrieved from the still-smoldering rubble last Sept. 12, and hung from the roof in a spontaneous show of determination.

"The terrorists wanted Sept. 11, to be a day when free people learned fear and sef-doubt. Instead it was a day when a sleeping patriotism was awakened in this country," Rumsfeld said.

The ceremony ended with a show of military might, a flyover by Air Force jets that shook the stands.

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