Bush Dedicates 9/11 Memorial At Pentagon

The first of three major Sept. 11 remembrance sites was dedicated Thursday outside of Washington. The Pentagon Memorial is a two-acre park built along the path of the American Airliner that crashed into the building, killing 184 people.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Im Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And Im Melissa Block.

Unidentified Woman #3: Dr. Paul W. Ambrose.

(Soundbite of bell)

Unidentified Woman #3: Specialist Craig S. Amundson, United States Army.

BLOCK: This morning, outside the nations capital, 184 men, women and children were remembered at the dedication of the Pentagon Memorial. As they did after the attack, rescue workers unfurled a huge American flag across the buildings west wall at the point of impact.

(Soundbite of song Amazing Grace)

BLOCK: And a bagpiper played as he walked through the memorial, a two-acre park with maple trees and rows of long, sleek, stainless steel benches, one bench for each victim.

An emotional Donald Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of Defense who was at the Pentagon on September 11th, paid tribute to the victims.

Mr. DONALD RUMSFELD (Former Secretary of Defense): They were men and women at their desks in the Pentagon who one morning kissed their loved ones goodbye, went off to work and never came home, and they were the passengers and crew aboard Flight 77 who in the last moments made phone calls to loved ones and prayed to the Almighty before their journey ended such a short distance from where it began.

BLOCK: President Bush called the memorial a graceful monument, both a tribute to those who died and to those who now serve.

President GEORGE W. BUSH (United States): Well always honor the heroes of 9/11, and here at this hallowed place we pledge that we will never forget their sacrifice.

We also honor those who raised their hands and made the noble decision to defend our nation in a time of war.

BLOCK: The Pentagon Memorial is the first of three major September 11th remembrance sites to be completed in the seven years since the attacks. Beginning tonight, it will be open to visitors 24 hours a day.

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A Mother Brings Perspective To Flight 93 Crash Site

Deborah Borza (left) hugs a visitor at the temporary memorial for Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. i i

Deborah Borza (left) hugs a visitor at the temporary memorial for Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. Borza's daughter, Deora Bodley, was a passenger on the flight. Libby Lewis/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Libby Lewis/NPR
Deborah Borza (left) hugs a visitor at the temporary memorial for Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa.

Deborah Borza (left) hugs a visitor at the temporary memorial for Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa. Borza's daughter, Deora Bodley, was a passenger on the flight.

Libby Lewis/NPR
Jack Strong of Zanesville, Ohio, talks with Borza, standing in the field where Flight 93 went down. i i

Jack Strong of Zanesville, Ohio, talks with Borza, standing in the field where Flight 93 went down. Libby Lewis/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Libby Lewis/NPR
Jack Strong of Zanesville, Ohio, talks with Borza, standing in the field where Flight 93 went down.

Jack Strong of Zanesville, Ohio, talks with Borza, standing in the field where Flight 93 went down.

Libby Lewis/NPR
Borza stands with Jack Strong and his family on the spot where the plane crashed. i i

Deborah Borza stands with Jack Strong and his family on the spot where the plane crashed, currently marked by a piece of plywood. Libby Lewis/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Libby Lewis/NPR
Borza stands with Jack Strong and his family on the spot where the plane crashed.

Deborah Borza stands with Jack Strong and his family on the spot where the plane crashed, currently marked by a piece of plywood.

Libby Lewis/NPR

Deborah Borza is one of the thousands of people to visit the field where United Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001. But Borza, the mother of passenger Deora Bodley, has become a regular at the Shanksville, Pa., site — and she's involved in the plans for a permanent memorial.

One recent day before the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks, Borza stopped by the Flight 93 Memorial Chapel on the way to the crash site.

There, she ran into Jack Strong of Zanesville, Ohio, who was visiting with his grandchildren.

Learning who Borza is, the group became quiet.

"I can't imagine," Strong said. "I don't know what to say. You've got to admit, that we're kind of surprised to meet a relative. We're sad for you, no matter what."

A Field, And A Memorial

Adjacent to the crash site, tall grass was being mowed, clearing the way for cars to be parked.

Borza, whose daughter was on Flight 93 as a standby passenger, said she has gotten used to running into visitors.

"I kind of learned early on that people wouldn't know what to say to me," she said.

"I really had to take a look at what I could provide for them. And I do it in honor of my daughter. That's just my way of dealing with what's now in every cell of my body."

Another outlet, she said, is to work to help get the federal memorial finished.

About 100,000 people visit Shanksville each year. This particular day, a Monday, the guest book said they came from all over: Arizona; New Zealand; Massachusetts; California.

The National Park Service hopes to open a permanent memorial there in three years.

It's been a long haul — and it's not over. Some of the landowners haven't settled on a price for their land. And there's a feud over the design of the memorial.

One family member, Tom Burnett Sr., has said he believes the architect's plans resembled an Islamic crescent.

In response, the architect added more red maple trees, to make the design look more like a circle of trees.

Joanne Hanley, of the National Park Service, says the trees in the memorial plan echo the lay of the land.

"It hugs the existing topography," she said, "which is a ridgeline encircling a bowl. All that circle does is point your attention to what the true memorial is: the crash site itself."

Borza said she thought the original design was beautiful. When the architect added trees, she said, her response was to think, "Great. More beautiful trees."

Visiting The Crash Site

Near a temporary memorial wall filled with mementos from visitors, Borza found Strong and his family again.

She offered to take them down into the point of impact itself — something that is off-limits to everyone but family members.

Borza said she's happy that visitors will be able to get very close to the crash site, where her daughter's remains are. Strong said he felt honored.

"This will help me cope with the anger for bin Laden," he said, "to see all this love."

"I am unwilling to have my daughter's death be in vain," Borza said. "Having you come down here continues the life of my daughter."

"You've altered my life — and my grandchildren," Strong said.

After the group talked some more, Borza locked the gate to the site. And the Strong family climbed into their van, for the drive home to Ohio.

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