September 11, 2008

Pentagon 9/11 Memorial Dedicated

U.S. military personnel Thursday lifted blue shrouds from 184 benches honoring those who died when American Airlines Flight 77 rammed the Pentagon in 2001.

The memorial on the Pentagon's west wall "is a testament to those who were taken from us and the memories that will live on," U.S. President George Bush said in dedicating the memorial to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

"On the day when buildings fell, heroes rose," he said.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was defense chief at the time and was among the first responders when the plane crashed into the building, said the memorial tells the story of the victims' "last terrible moments on this earth."

"Today we renew our vows to never forget how this long struggle began and to never forget those who fell first," he said.

The benches, each with a reflecting pool and a tree, are placed so when visitors read the names inscribed, they face either the sky or the Pentagon, commemorating whether the victim was a plane passenger or a Pentagon employee.

The terrorists who drove the plane into Pentagon "pierced the rings of this building," Bush said, "but could not break the resolve of our American armed forces."

After the dedication, Bush, first lady Laura Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, other dignitaries and members of the victims' families walked through the memorial, known as "the park."