- The Washington Times - Friday, October 12, 2001

President Bush, attending a memorial service yesterday at the Pentagon one month after hijackers crashed a plane into the nation's defense center, mocked the Taliban's claim of moral superiority and divinity of mission and said their terrorists "died in vain."
Mr. Bush also vowed that America's "symbol of our strength" will be rebuilt "brick by brick."
"The Taliban regime has brought nothing but fear and misery to the people of Afghanistan. These rulers call themselves holy men, even with their record of drawing money from heroin trafficking. They consider themselves pious and devout, while subjecting women to fierce brutality," the president said to about 8,000 Pentagon workers and family members.
With most of the 189 victims' bodies still unrecovered, Mr. Bush sought to comfort the families grieving over the loss of their loved ones.
"We know that if you lost a son or daughter here, or a husband, or a wife, or a mom or dad, life will never again be as it was. The loss was sudden, and hard, and permanent. So difficult to explain. So difficult to accept.
"But to all of you who lost someone here, I want to say: You are not alone. The American people will never forget the cruelty that was done here and in New York," Mr. Bush said.
The hourlong service held on the opposite side from the spot where American Airlines Flight 77 ripped through the building was somber, with ushers handing out tissues to grieving family members. The stage was decorated with red, white and blue flowers, flags from all branches of the service and a sign that said: "United in Memory Sept. 11, 2001."
The ceremony included readings from Christian, Jewish and Muslim scriptures. At one point, the names of most of the 189 persons who died at the Pentagon were scrolled across large video screens, prompting dozens of people to wipe tears from their eyes and one woman to hold up a photograph and call out "I love you, baby."
The president and first lady, both dressed in black, sat on the stage with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard B. Myers. Also attending the event were Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, and former President Bill Clinton.
Security for the service was tight, with machine gun-toting troops clad in camouflage standing guard.
The entire audience, including the president, waved handheld flags and joined in during the military chorus' performance of "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
One Pentagon employee said she didn't know anyone hurt or killed but was grateful for the service.
"We just needed it," said Dee Hendricks, who works in the real estate division.
"It has drawn us together," said Beverly Robertson, who works in the Air Force budget office. "It has finalized things."
Sally Wetzel, whose sister, Molly McKenzie, 38, died in her office, said she was touched by the prayers and the support.
"This is so different, not the normal type of loss," she said, struggling for words. "This [service] was beautiful and encouraging."
Noting the Pentagon was built during World War II construction began on Sept. 11, 1941, exactly 60 years before the terrorist attack Mr. Rumsfeld compared the war on terrorism to the U.S. battle against Nazi Germany and its efforts to resist the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
"In the last century, this building existed to oppose two totalitarian regimes that sought to oppress and to rule other nations," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "Just as those regimes sought to rule and oppress, others in this century seek to do the same by corrupting a noble religion."
Of the victims, the defense secretary said: "We remember them as heroes, and we are right to do so."

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