Thursday, September 11, 2014

9-11-2001: America's Pentagon, the Heart of American Military, was Attacked by Terrorists -- 9-12-2001: America's Flag Flies High at the Pentagon

These words are part of the Pentagon Memorial established after the attack on 9-11-2001

Thirteen years ago today I was sitting in my office in our home talking to a friend on the phone who was working in DC about the attacks on the World Trade Center when the he felt the plane hit the Pentagon and saw the smoke.

The DoD has been so much a part of our family's lives starting when I went to work at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, years ago.  Our family has been transferred around the Country ending up here in Norman, Oklahoma, after the San Antonio Depot at Kelly AFB closed.  My oldest daughter was at Pensacola NAS, Florida, for training on that day.  Hearing her voice when we finally got in touch was overwhelming even though I knew she was safe but had no idea what was ahead for her after training.

Will never forget 9/11 and watching the scenes of devastation on the TV from the initial hits on the World Trade Center buildings and then to have the Pentagon hit left me in tears and still does remembering all the people who died needlessly that day because of lax security at our airports and a few other things.

The World Trade Centers get most of the focus today but I decided to make this post to be about the Pentagon which was attacked that same day shortly after the WTC's attack.   There were 184 men and women who died in the Pentagon that day -- a building thought to be impenetrable.  It is from the ground but no one would have suspected a hijacked airliner out of Reagan National would fly into the building.

American Airlines Flight 77: Left Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia at 8:20 a.m. en route to Los Angeles with a crew of six and 53 passengers, not including five hijackers. The hijackers flew the plane into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. 
The Pentagon was severely damaged by the impact of American Airlines Flight 77 and ensuing fires, causing one section of the building to collapse. As it approached the Pentagon, the airplane's wings knocked over light poles and its right engine smashed into a power generator before crashing into the western side of the building, killing all 53 passengers, 5 hijackers, and 6 crew. The plane hit the Pentagon at the first-floor level. The front part of the fuselage disintegrated on impact, while the mid and tail sections kept moving for another fraction of a second. Debris from the tail section penetrated furthest into the building, breaking through 310 feet (94 m) of the three outermost of the building's five rings. 
It is unfathomable to realize how much devastation this airliner caused having been in that building in the past -- giant fortress.

Note the American flag to the right of the devastation which was unfurled on Sept 12, 2001, and retired 30 days later flying night and day!  The flag will never be flown again but has been preserved by the US Army.  This American flag will always stand as a tribute to the men and women who lost their lives that day and to the many who have served our great Nation over the years be it military or civilian who work in the heart of  our Nation's defense.  

This Country took a hit on 9-11 but Bin Laden the leader of Al Qaeda who was behind the attacks now sleeps with the fishes in the Ocean thanks to President Obama and his unwillingness to let the man responsible escape justice. 
11:35 P.M. EDT, May 1st  
     THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.   
Read More at The White House
The American Flag flying over the Pentagon where the terrorists flew into the building shows our resolve as a Nation to stand tall against terrorists foreign and domestic.  Hard to fathom why an American would join terrorists organizations who want to target the United States, but in my opinion if an American joins the terrorist, they should lose their citizenship in the United States as they have become our enemy.
The Pentagon Memorial, located just southwest of The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, is a permanent outdoor memorial to the 184 men and women who died as victims in the building and on American Airlines Flight 77 during the September 11, 2001 attacks
To commemorate the anniversary each year, an American flag is hung on the section of the Pentagon hit by Flight 77. At night, this section of the building is lit up in blue lights.
For the fifth anniversary, a "Tribute of Lights" display included 184 beams of light from the center courtyard shining into the sky. 
Anniversary events also include the America Supports You National Freedom Walk, which has been held on Sundays. The walk starts at the Lincoln Memorial and ends at the Pentagon.
Pentagon Memorial at Arlington Cemetery 
The Arlington Police/Fire/Sheriff 5K Race is held on Saturdays, around the anniversary, with the course going through part of Crystal City and through the Pentagon grounds.
Memorial services are held on the anniversary of 9/11 at the Pentagon, with one service in an auditorium at the Pentagon for employees. A smaller service is held at the memorial site for family and friends of victims killed at the Pentagon on 9/11. 

This story from DoD of the American flag brought back a lot of memories this morning as I watched the flag flying tall after it was unfurled the day after the attack on our Pentagon.  To me it showed the resolve of this Country and its military that even though the Pentagon took a huge hit, our American flag still flew high the day after:
The Story of the Pentagon 9-11 FlagBy Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity 
WASHINGTON, Sept. 11, 2014 – Anyone who saw the American flag unfurled at the Pentagon on Sept. 12, 2001, knows how Francis Scott Key felt two centuries ago when he was inspired to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 
The day after the terrorist attack on the Pentagon, the scene was still chaotic. Only essential military and civilian workers were required to come to the building. Parking was at Reagan-National Airport, as all U.S. airspace was still closed. As employees got off the Metro train, Pentagon police stood with weapons examining everyone’s badge. Those without a Pentagon ID were told to keep traveling on. The conversation in the building was about friends who remained missing. 
At the site, firefighters were putting out the final embers that were burning in the roof. Then word came that President George W. Bush wanted to see the damage to the Pentagon himself. 
Garrison flag 
No one knows who originally came up with the idea for unfurling the flag to the right of the damaged areas on the building, but Army Maj. Gen. Jim Jackson, then the Military District of Washington commander, made it happen. 
He sent over to nearby Fort Myer, Virginia, for the largest flag they could find. The U.S. Army Band had a garrison flag – the largest authorized for the military – and sent it over.
During Bush's visit to the impact site, 3rd Infantry Regiment soldiers and Arlington, Virginia, firefighters unveiled the flag and draped it over the side of the building. Then they stood and saluted. 
It was a moment that quickened the heart. The United States had been attacked, the Pentagon had been hit, friends were gone, thousands were killed in New York and Pennsylvania, yet the American flag still flew. 
That flag signified the unconquerable nature of the American people. Those inside the building already were preparing to take the battle to the attackers and bring them to justice. 
The flag flew on the side of the building for the next month. Each night, workers illuminated it with floodlights. Members of A Company of the 3rd Infantry Regiment -- “The Old Guard” -- took the flag down Oct. 11. 
A treasured symbol 
The flag is soot-stained and ripped at one spot where it rubbed up against the building. It now is in the care of the Army’s Center of Military History. 
It is treasured as the 9/11 generation’s Star-Spangled Banner, because they, like Francis Scott Key during the British attack on Baltimore in 1814, looked to the flag for inspiration and comfort. 
Read More at DoD
Soldiers from A Company, 3rd Infantry "The Old Guard" -- gather the giant garrison 
flag being lowered from the side of the Pentagon, where it had hung beside the impact site 
of the 9/11 terrorist attack, Oct. 11, 2001. The flag was ceremonially retired. 
DoD photo by Jim Garamone

NOTE: Photos in this article come from the Pentagon or Google Search

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