- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2001

Washingtonians sought answers and a return to normalcy yesterday in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist assaults.
"The president wanted us to come back to work, so I followed his orders," said Mable Brown, 54, a Maryland resident who has worked at the Pentagon for 27 years.
She returned yesterday to pick up as best she could where she left off Tuesday morning. That's when a hijacked airplane from Washington Dulles International Airport crashed into the side of the Pentagon, killing all 64 passengers and crew on board and at least 107 employees at the Defense Department's headquarters in Arlington, just across the Potomac River from the District.
Two other planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, and a fourth crashed in rural Pennsylvania.
Families from around the region brought their children, who were out of school because of closures, to see one of the sites of the worst terrorist attack on American soil.
"I just thought it was important for them to see this. They're still coming to terms with it," said Rashid Farabary, 38, of Arlington, who brought his two daughters with him.
"It's shocking. How can you not be shocked?" he asked. "Death here is anathema. You just don't deal with it. But this is so gruesome."
In some ways, life may never be the same. Armed military police and Humvees patrol some streets in Washington. States of emergency remain in effect across the region.
"This is not supposed to happen. It's like a reality check," said Gil Valentin, 27, in Arlington yesterday morning. "To think, 'Oh My God, I could die or someone could take over this country' — you take for granted what you have, you think of communist countries where you can't do what we do, to think everything could just be taken away."
The airlines released more complete passenger lists, including those from the Dulles flight, and some of the victims who worked at the Pentagon became known. Washingtonians finally saw faces of victims and were able to grieve with their families.
Area schools were closed yesterday, and some roads around the Pentagon and in the District were blocked off for security reasons. But federal workers and business employees returned to work yesterday, a day after the city shut down.
Even Pentagon employees returned, partly because workers knew their efforts were needed, partly because they wanted to send a message: Americans would not be cowed by terrorism.
Local governments have pledged to try to operate normally today, and D.C. schools will be open. But commuters will find the roads near key government buildings congested because of heightened security — particularly around military installations.
Residents across the region turned to God and the American flag for comfort. Pews were filled for prayer services across the region. Flags were planted on lawns, attached to cars, raised above homes and even worn on clothes.
"I wanted the people I worked with to know that I bleed red, white and blue just like they do," said Damon Jackson, who wore a flag sticker on his shirt.
Even as they sought explanations for the crash, Washingtonians realized there were heroes among them — like the Virginia State Police troopers first on the scene who waded into the burning Pentagon on Tuesday to try to help victims.
Hundreds of other area residents waited hours in line to donate blood. So many turned out that blood banks last night were asking donors to call and schedule appointments.
Others skipped work to volunteer their help with emergency efforts.
"It's been such an honor to be here, and be a part of this. This is a moment in history I will never forget. I don't know the words, I just feel it in my chest," said Red Cross volunteer Melissa Pancurak, a 25-year-old from Ashburn, who spent the day at the Pentagon coordinating supplies.
Meanwhile, area hospitals continued to treat the dozens of victims, most of them suffering from burns, who were working in the Pentagon when the plane crashed.
Virginia Hospital Center treated 44 victims and had discharged 26 patients by yesterday evening. Washington Hospital Center treated eight patients, including seven in critical condition.
Doctors at one burn center were awaiting a second shipment of 50 square feet of frozen human cadaver skin on its way from a Dallas hospital, which would be used as temporary bandages to cover areas where they had to cut away burned tissue.
Michael Kurtz, whose wife, Louise, suffered burns over 70 percent of her body, said he didn't recognize her when he arrived at the hospital on Tuesday.
"About 1 o'clock, a hospital representative called me and told me my wife was here. I came in teary-eyed — I didn't recognize my wife of 31 years," he said.
Stranded travelers were able to collect their baggage from the region's three major airports, though a general ban on air traffic remained in effect.
At the Pentagon, firefighters finally contained the stubborn flames that had flared anew some 24 hours after the crash. A jagged alley was ripped through the outer corridor of one of the five sides of the building.
With the fire extinguished, rescuers finally were able to search for bodies.
Sources on the scene confirmed at least 107 Pentagon personnel died, as did all 64 persons onboard the American Airlines Flight 77 from Dulles bound for Los Angeles that crashed into the Pentagon about 9:40 a.m. Tuesday. Officials said the final death toll probably will exceed 200.
Rescuers yesterday afternoon began filling and carrying away body bags.
"They don't look like corpses; they look like small bags of remains in them," said Salvation Army official Bernie Dake.
Jabeen Bhatti, Matthew Cella, Brian DeBose, Alexandra Rockey Fleming, Vaishali Honawar, Margie Hyslop, Jim Keary, Gerald Mizejewski, Ellen Sorokin, Guy Taylor and Arlo Wagner contributed to this article.


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