- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Fifty mayors of the nation's towns, villages and cities came to Northern Virginia yesterday bringing 184 red roses to lay at the heart of the Pentagon one rose for each life lost at this site six months ago.
In one of two ceremonies at the Pentagon yesterday and one of many around the nation the mayors honored the victims, first responders and the military on the six-month anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in this nation's history.
"Here on a clear day six months ago, terrorists took the lives of innocent people," Minnetonka, Minn., Mayor Karen Anderson, president of the National League of Cities, said against a backdrop of cranes and jackhammers rebuilding the damaged section of the Pentagon. "We are here to represent the residents of towns and cities around the nation to honor their lives. We will not forget."
The mayors also honored David O. Cooke, director of administration and management, and the longest serving employee at the Pentagon.
"It is a sacred day," said Mr. Cooke, a 60-year employee and the unofficial "mayor" of its 23,000 employees.
"The day recalls six months ago, the infamy, the tragedy, the sorrow that came to us. It also recalls the selfless deeds of bravery and heroism from ordinary citizens."
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams praised the military and said the city would plant a tree to honor the Pentagon victims for generations to come.
"As I looked out my window at the Pentagon on fire, I knew nothing would ever be the same," he said.
The mayors came from all corners of the nation, including: Pembroke Pines, Fla.; Avondale, Ariz., Saginaw, Mich., Florence, S.C, New Haven, Conn., and Orlando, Fla. They carried red roses snaked by blue and white ribbons.
"Some of the towns didn't lose anyone, but we definitely feel so affected by September 11," said Marie Rogers, vice mayor of Avondale. "It feels overwhelming."
In another ceremony at the Pentagon earlier yesterday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld commemorated the six-month anniversary of the attacks by leading 29 top defense officials from allied nations on a tour of the renovation site at the Pentagon.
"Six months ago today, you could see black smoke, thick smoke and flames rising from this building," he said.
Now, project Phoenix, which aims to complete the destroyed southwest portion of the building by Sept. 11, 2002, is weeks ahead of schedule, he said.
Mr. Rumsfeld thanked the military leaders for their help in the war against terrorism.
"Six months after the war began, it certainly is far from over," he said. "But if we stand together … the final outcome is assured."



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