Arlington, Virginia--On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked an American civilian airliner using it to attack what Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld rightly calls America's symbol of "military might." In a terrifying instant, three of the Pentagon's five concentric rings of corridors were penetrated by a plane-turned-missile flying at 560 kilometers-per-hour delivering tons of explosive jet fuel that would turn reinforced concrete into mush. One year later, what seemed the nearly impossible has been accomplished at the Pentagon. Construction workers hauled away 45,000 metric tons of debris and devoted an equivalent of 3 million hours to do what some said, at first, could not be accomplished: return Department of Defense (DOD) employees to their formerly demolished office space by September 11, 2002. But there is still one startling reminder of the fury of the attack. A single rectangular block of charred, pockmarked, cracked limestone from the damaged structure stands out from its new surroundings as a stark reminder of the recent past. Inscribed simply "September 11, 2001," it is located near the jet's point of impact and covers a dedication capsule put in place on June 11 by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to mark completion of the outside of the building. The bronze capsule is dedicated to the victims and contains items identified for inclusion by families of the victims, construction workers, and Defense Department management "as a testament to the strength and resolve" of Americans. The contents include lists of the names of those killed in the attack on the Pentagon, and the 46,000 people who wrote to express thanks to those who suffered from the attack, as well as badges from police and fire crews who aided in the rescue effort. Perhaps those who are still grappling--in many different ways--with what happened beside the Potomac River last year should bear in mind the words of the secretary of defense: "from the ashes, hope springs."
September 11: One year Later: A Special Electronic Journal of the U.S. Department of State, September 2002, p. 22-24