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Phoenix rises: Pentagon honors 'hard-hat patriots'

Workers who helped with the Pentagon reconstruction project gathered to reflect Wednesday.
Workers who helped with the Pentagon reconstruction project gathered to reflect Wednesday.  


By Christy Oglesby
CNN

(CNN) -- A Wednesday afternoon Pentagon ceremony -- the second at the site that day -- focused on renewal and determination as speakers honored the reconstruction crews who worked there after terrorists damaged the building a year ago.

A video presentation called "Phoenix Rising" launched the service with images of devastation and rejuvenation as the crowd watched, then erupted in applause.

Walker Lee Evey, the reconstruction project's program manager, directed his first remarks to immigrants who helped rebuild the bastion of the nation's defense.

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Speaking in Spanish, Evey expressed gratitude, concluding with, "Muchas, muchas gracias."

"The workers could never have operated as such a team without the full and selfless contribution of family in support of this effort," he said. "We thank you for your patriotism."

Dubbed Project Phoenix, the repairs cost close to $700 million, included new safety features and ended a month ahead of schedule.

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During an earlier memorial service Wednesday morning to honor the 184 people who died in the attack, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, paid tribute to the builders, calling them "hard-hat patriots."

"With muscle, determination, marble, cement and Indiana limestone, you did more than repair our windows and walls, you repaired our souls," Myers said.

Morning memories

A solemn prelude of projected images of devastation and child-crafted condolences launched the morning ceremony along the west wall of the Pentagon in honor of the victims who died there last year.

President Bush and his wife, Laura, were the last to take the podium, moments before the invocation.

At 9:37 a.m. EDT, the exact time that American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, ceremony attendants drew silent to recognize the moment tragedy began unfolding along the complex's west wall.

The president used his remarks to remind America that the war on terror will and must continue.

Speaking of the victims, Bush said, "Though they died in tragedy, they did not die in vain. Their loss has moved a nation to action. ...

"What happened to our nation on a September day set in motion the first great struggle of a new century."

Pentagon victims included 64 airline passengers and 125 people at the Pentagon -- 22 soldiers, 47 Army civilian employees, six Army contractors, 33 sailors, six Navy civilian employees, three Navy contractors and eight other Defense Department employees.

Five families never received remains. One had a relative on the plane; four had relatives who worked at the Pentagon.

Officials plan to erect a permanent memorial outside the building that will be accessible to the public and near the crash site.



 
 
 
 


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