Every year on the anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, I have been suggesting that readers make a contribution to the Memorial for the Pentagon victims. Thanks to anyone who did that: the memorial was dedicated today, on the seventh anniversary.
On that beautiful, warm day the school where I teach suspended classes shortly after noon and brought the students together for a Mass. In the terrible silence of the auditorium, with the entire student body praying together, the roar of military jets in the skies above Washington was the only sound. I will carry to my grave the memory of having to explain to boys, whose parents work at the Capitol, the White House, the Pentagon, what was happening. Mrs. Ionarts, at that point mid-pregnancy with Master Ionarts, locked herself in my office so that her crying would not further upset the students. News of a fourth plane, headed to the U.S. Capitol, not far from our house, had just arrived (that plane ultimately crashed in Pennsylvania, in a field I very much want to visit, to pay my respects).
We learned later about some of the people who were killed in the attack on the Pentagon. Bernard Brown was an 11-year-old student from Leckie Elementary on a National Geographic trip to California. Asia Cottom, also age 11 but from Bertie Backus Middle School (just down the street from my school), was on the same trip. In all, 184 people lost their lives that morning at the Pentagon.
REQUIESCANT IN PACE. WE WILL NOT FORGET YOU.
Pentagon employees and airplane passengers who died
in the attack on the Pentagon, September 11, 2001