One day after the Pentagon's September 11 observance, the remaining dead from the attack will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with all the pageantry the nation's military can muster.
With the observance at the Memorial Amphitheater, used for such occasions since the interment of the World War I Unknown Soldier in 1921, family members will say final goodbyes to all 184 persons killed in the Pentagon and aboard American Airlines Flight 77. The remains of the five hijackers will be disposed of elsewhere.
Senior Defense Department officials will attend, as chaplains from the Army, Air Force and Navy conduct a service that will end with a hymn for martyrs and “soldiers, faithful, true and bold” by the U.S. Navy Band.
“Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest,” promises Earl Nelson's 1864 lyric.
Brigadier General James T. Spivey Jr., former deputy commander of the Pentagon Family Assistance Center, will deliver the keynote address at the 9 a.m. interservice ceremony.
Carrying out the “United in Freedom” theme, the event includes units of the 3rd U.S. Infantry (the Old Guard), U.S. Marine Corps Ceremonial and Guard Company, U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard, and the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard. After the observance, a horse-drawn caisson will ascend the gentle slope to Section 64, bearing a lone coffin to a “natural place” close by the Pentagon. It will contain all unidentifiable remains, plus remains of some of the victims, respecting the wishes of their families.
“Some families elected to include the remains. All are cremated together and placed in one urn which will be inside the casket,” said Major Sandy Troeber, a Defense Department spokeswoman.
Fifty victims of the attack await these final arrivals beneath three ranks of headstones arrayed facing the spot where the hijacked airliner tore through the symbol of U.S. military might.
Each of the 50 — officers and enlisted troops interspersed with civilians — was buried at individual services, beginning Sept. 25 with Army civilian employee Deborah A. Ramsaur and ending April 9 with Navy Capt. John Yamnicky, who rests at the end of the front row in grave 64-4638.
Jennifer Lafley, Military District of Washington spokeswoman, said the additional remains will be buried at the foot of a gray granite monument shaped like the Pentagon and bearing all 184 names. Fourteen other Pentagon casualties are interred elsewhere in Arlington.
Sept. 12 was chosen for the service to accommodate families attending the anniversary observance and other events the day before, Miss Lafley said. Families of the five persons for whom no identifiable remains were found will be accorded special treatment at the ceremony. The five are Dana Falkenberg, 3, a passenger; Petty Officer 1st Class Ronald Hemenway, 37; Rhonda Rasmussen, 44, civilian employee; James Lynch, 55, civilian employee; and retired Army Reserve Col. Ronald Golinski, 60.
Honor guards will fold the American flag covering the coffin and present it not to family members but to the ranking Defense Department official present. This is in keeping with the tradition of presenting to the president flags from coffins of unknowns. Those who return to visit when trees have shed their leaves will find the Pentagon's shadow cast over this new memorial in a burial section bounded by drives named for World War II Gens. George Patton, Omar Bradley and George Catlett Marshall.
About 5,000 people are expected to attend the Amphitheater service, Miss Lafley said. As many as 2,000 family members will be bused from the Amphitheater to the burial site for final prayers, taps and the three volleys from seven riflemen that military tradition holds distinct from the more formal “21-gun salute.”
“Most families are attending. So far, we're still gathering RSVPs, but most want to attend,” Maj. Troeber said. The government is paying travel expenses for four family members per victim, and American Airlines is doing the same for families of passengers and crew from Flight 77.
This will be the seventh time that the Amphitheater has been used for a funeral ceremony and the first since the 1950 burial of the first Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Harry “Hap” Arnold, military records show.
The five-sided group marker, symbolizing the five-sided Pentagon, is made from Barre Gray Vermont granite quarried by Rock of Ages Co. and manufactured into a memorial by Granite Industries of Vermont. Names are inscribed on aluminum plates from Matthews Memorials in Pittsburgh. A plaque is fastened to each of the 4-foot-5-inch-tall sides.
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard