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Quilt Honors Women Killed in Pentagon Attack - 2002-08-28


When a passenger jet slammed into the Pentagon during the September 11 terrorist attacks, 74 women who were on the plane or working at the Defense Department were killed. During an emotional ceremony in Washington, August 27, a quilt was unveiled to honor the women who died in the attack on the Pentagon.

To mark the one-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, many Americans are remembering those who died by making quilts, stitching together patriotic patterns and colors as a way of remembering and honoring the victims.

Some of the employees of the Department of Transportation in Washington watched in horror across the Potomac River that day as American Airlines Flight 77, which had been commandeered by terrorists, slammed into the Pentagon, setting part of the huge building on fire.

Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta unveiled a quilt made by his department's workers to honor the 74 women killed in the attack. "I can think of no finer way to honor the women who died then to let the warmth of this quilt sustain the spirit that resides in all of us," he said.

"Although a small gesture, I felt it was important to do," said Bernie Williams, one of the more than 80 people involved in making the quilt. "To me this quilt represents warmth, love, strength, care, family, unity, and healing. I hope this single act serves as a lasting memory of the event. But more importantly as an act to uplift our heads and hearts for the times ahead."

Lieutenant Colonel Brian Birdwell, who suffered burns over 40 percent of his body and received the U.S. military medal known as the Purple Heart for the injuries sustained during the attack, worked daily with two of the women killed at the Pentagon.

"It is very appropriate that the title of what going on today is 'Hands across the Potomac.' So on behalf of the Department of Defense, I am very happy to reach out our hands to accept the quilt," he said. "On behalf of our nation, you need to know this, is that we in the Department of Defense are happy to reach out across the Atlantic and the Pacific to take the tragedy to our enemies. We are very happy to do that on your behalf."

The Pentagon has received more than 65 quilts made to remember the victims of the September 11 attacks. Many are on public display in the United States, serving as a memorial and a tribute to the thousands of people who were killed that day.

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