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Pentagon Remembers 9-11 Victims - 2003-09-11


Solemn ceremonies were held at the Pentagon and nearby Arlington National Cemetery Thursday to remember the terrorist attack two years ago in which a hijacked American Airlines jet slammed into the headquarters of the U.S. Armed Forces. One hundred twenty-five people in the building and 59 passengers and crew on the plane died.

The Pentagon has been restored, the rubble from the attack two years has been cleared away, but the memory of the events of September 11 are still fresh.

Thousands in the massive office building took part in prayer services and observed a moment of silence Thursday to recall the moment when a hijacked plane slammed into one of its sides, setting off a U.S.-led war on terrorism that has sent tens of thousands of American troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.

There was also a wreath-laying ceremony at nearby Arlington National Cemetery, attended by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers.

Mr. Rumsfeld noted why the "fight for freedom" continues.

"Because we know that if we do not fighting the terrorists over there in Iraq, in Afghanistan and across the world, then we will have to face them here, and many more men, women and children as well as the patriots defending them will perish," he said. "That's why we will prevail."

One hundred twenty-five people inside the Pentagon were killed in the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. Fifty-nine passengers and crew aboard the terrorist-commandeered American Airlines plane that hit the building also died, along with the five hijackers.

Mr. Rumsfeld and General Myers called the victims of the attack heroes and patriots.

And speaking at Arlington Cemetery, like Mr. Rumsfeld, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff vowed the terrorists will be defeated.

"This war on terrorism will be a long, hard struggle, requiring our patience, our commitment and our will," said Mr. Rumsfeld. "Make no doubt about it, we are winning."

In the two years since the attack on the Pentagon, U.S. forces have toppled the Taleban regime in Afghanistan that had harbored al-Qaida terrorists linked to the 9-11 attacks.

U.S. forces have also removed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power, in part because of his regime's ties to terrorists as well as its development of weapons of mass destruction.

Despite the battlefield successes, however, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden remains at large as does Saddam Hussein. U.S. forces continue to hunt them.

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