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Dedication of Repaired Pentagon Exterior

Aired June 11, 2002 - 10:01   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And now we go live to the Pentagon. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: ... six decades ago; a stone whose charred face speaks of walls once broken and burning and whose face will serve as a reminder to make this wall and visitors and workers see whole and unbroken once more.

But as we replace this original stone, this simple act means much, much more. A capsule that will also become part of these walls, containing photos, cards and letters, very much like one I'm going to read from in a few minutes, will be placed here to help us understand what this moment is about. And we thank those this morning who worked on that capsule, worked to pay tribute to those who were lost on that historic day.

Amanda Lynn (ph), an eighth grader at Taylor Middle School in California, wrote: "Dear Pentagon..." -- we're people, not a building, but it's very cute -- "Dear Pentagon," she wrote, "I believe we can all pull together and show what America means. To me, following the attacks last September, America means wisdom, strength, endurance and freedom." Amanda (ph), you got it exactly right.

Wisdom, strength, endurance, freedom. Those are qualities that do define America, qualities we see across America every day. Qualities we see in you, the workers in hard hats and boots, armed with hammers and saws. With your hearts and your hands, you have rebuilt this symbol of American values and strength stone by stone, and we thank you.

You are builders who adopted that battle cry that Todd Beamer led the passengers on that flight over Pennsylvania. "Let's roll," is what he said, and "Let's roll" is what you said, and that's exactly what you've done. You've healed this wall and, in doing so, you were helping to heal our nation.

(APPLAUSE)

In his address to the nation just days after the attacks, President Bush said, "Adversity introduces us to ourselves." This is true of a nation as well. In this trial, he said, "We have been reminded and the world has seen that our fellow Americans are generous and kind, resourceful and brave. Americans have shown a deep commitment to one another and an abiding love for our country."

This deep commitment and abiding love so evident and painstaking and patiently building, honors those who died here, those who died in New York, those how died in Pennsylvania, and it defies those who seek not to build, but to kill and to destroy.

The men and women who were lost here in the Pentagon on that morning in September, died, as Secretary Rumsfeld has said, because their attackers sensed that the optimism of all they were and stood for resided here in this building. "Those Americans died," he said, "because of how they lived, as free men and women proud of their freedom, proud of their country and proud of their country's cause -- the cause of human freedom. They died because they were Americans."

And because we are Americans, because of what we stand for -- our enduring values, our right to govern ourselves, to live in safety and security, to enjoy peace and prosperity, justice and freedom, to find and worship God in our own way, all of those things that define who we are and what we stand for -- because of them, we will not only rebuild but we will be better than we were before. That is also what America means. It is home to unbounded optimism and pride in what we can accomplish together.

I have long believed that America's greatest power, even more than our vast resources, more than the beauty we see all around us, more than our great melting pot or the great military strength that is built in part by the men and women who work in this building, more than all of those, America's greatest power is what we stand for.

In closing her letter to the entire Pentagon family, Amanda Lynn (ph) offered some of that American optimism. "Hope," she wrote, "is what we have, and I know it will help us get through each and every day. As people of America, we stand together."

May God bless the men and women here and across America who stand together and build and labor for freedom. May God bless the men and women of our armed forces who serve our nation so faithfully and so well. And may God bless America.

(APPLAUSE)

I am now going to place the dedication capsule inside the wall, where it will remain forever.

Just so everyone understands, this is a stone from the original wall, and that's why it looks charred. The only thing that's been added is the date.

KAGAN: We're watching the placement of the final stone on the side of the Pentagon. The work being done to complete the damage that was done nine months ago. It is nine months ago to the day, since this is June 11. A number of -- a lot of work had to go into fixing the Pentagon: 4,000 limestone slabs used in rebuilding the destroyed portion of the Pentagon.

As you just heard Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz point out, the one that's being placed right now is from the original building so that we never forget what happened that day on September 11 when 184 people lost their lives as American Airlines Flight 177 slammed into the side of the Pentagon.

Military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre was there on that day. He is with us now. Jamie, share some of your thoughts as they put this final stone slab in to cover the dedication capsule.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a very touching memorial, to see the actual charred piece of limestone put up back in the side of this building.

Most of this limestone that they replaced is from the original quarry in Indiana, where the 1941 facade was taken from. At the time, limestone was used because it was one of the cheapest things available. They went to great pains to try to match up the limestone with the existing limestone on the facade. They say after it weathers, it will be -- it will match pretty well with the rest of the building. Although you will probably always be able to tell where they have replaced a good portion of this building. This project now, with the completion of the facade, the work now moves inside.

These workers applauding now are not through, by any means, with what they have to accomplish. They still have a goal of getting everyone back in this outer ring of the Pentagon by September 11, the one-year anniversary. And then they hope within six months of that, the two other damaged rings inside will also be reoccupied, and everybody will be back in by the spring of next year, a repair job that has cost about $700 million. The Pentagon was being renovated anyway, and that renovation will take another ten years. But this repair job should be complete by next spring.

KAGAN: Jamie, what about that dedication capsule. It's purposefully not being called a time capsule, because it is never to be reopened. But what's in that?

MCINTYRE: It is interesting that they came up with this idea of not having a time capsule, but having a dedication capsule. And as you heard Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz say, they do not expect that it will ever be opened. It will be there forever, he said. Now inside, we got a look at some of the contents yesterday. They include some coins from the Secretary of Defense, pins and patches from some of the first people who arrived on the scene on September 11, both the police and firefighters.

Some of the patches worn by construction workers here, which had that motto on them, "Let's roll," which is also on the big time countdown clock that they have here, that will -- that counts down to 9:38 a.m., September 11, 2002, which will be the exact one-year point. Now that was their goal to get people back into the Pentagon.

Also inside that small bronze cube, a small plaque with all of the victims' names, all 184 victims killed, both the 125 that were here in the Pentagon who were killed, and also those on the plane. You heard Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz read from some of the cards. There have been thousands and thousands of cards sent to the Pentagon by children, and they have selected a couple of those to be represented -- representative of that and put them inside the dedication capsule as well. Again, no plans to ever open this up and take that out. That stays inside the building as permanent reminder and memorial to those who died that day.

KAGAN: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon. Thank you for your coverage since 9/11 and also helping us appreciate today's dedication ceremony.

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