9-11-2002 One Year Later...
The Phoenix Construction Site, September 11, 2002
By Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
Aug 12, 2011, 3:30pm

Phoenix Construction Site:
The Ceremony Honoring Pentagon Builders

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz , Phoenix Construction Site, The Pentagon, Wednesday, September 11, 2002.

Thank you John [Nau] and Dick [Moe]. This award recognizes each one of the extraordinary men and women who have rebuilt the Pentagon with some of the greatest tools there are: professionalism, passion and pride. This one’s for you!

On behalf of Secretary Rumsfeld, welcome, everyone, to the Pentagon—although maybe you should welcome me—I think many of you have been spending more time here than I have the last few months.

That probably goes double for Lee Evey, Program Manager of the Pentagon Renovation Project. Lee, you may have a calm demeanor, but we know it belies the real dynamo inside. Your leadership, Lee, which was apparent from the moment you came aboard in 1997, inspired your workers to do their best throughout this enormous challenge. And they repaid your trust with incredible performance.

Next week, Lee retires after more than three decades of federal service and Army service before that in Vietnam. Now, it is reported that Lee has said, quite matter of factly, "Somebody will take my place." But, in truth, Lee, you will be very hard to replace. You have made your mark in the hearts of America and you will be missed. Lee and Gigi, we thank you, and we wish you Godspeed.

Governor Warner; Senator Warner, Senator Allen, Congressman Moran—thank you all for being with us on this special day; and thank you for your wonderful support to the Defense Department and to our men and women in uniform, particularly over the past year. Chaplain Campbell, Secretary England; and a special thank you to the men and women who prepared this site for today’s observances, and the planners who brought it all together. Ladies and Gentlemen, honored guests, including our most honored guests, the families and friends of those we lost a year ago and whom we remember today;

And, finally, the men and women who have done such magnificent work rebuilding America’s Pentagon—on budget and ahead of schedule! You are American heroes and the heroes we honor at this event today. Would you all stand and be recognized.

Your sweat and sacrifice does great honor to the men and women we lost here a year ago, and in the days since. In their memory, let us observe a moment of silence.

* * * *

As smoke rose from these very walls a year ago, within these walls, in the first of many press conferences to come, Secretary Rumsfeld announced: the Pentagon will be open for business tomorrow. Well, he was right. The Pentagon, although broken and burning, was running.

Secretary Rumsfeld’s declaration that we would go on, not only set the tone for what was to follow, it captured what was happening already. For even as concrete crumbled and fires blazed, you mobilized in minutes, gathering blueprints and plans to help rescuers understand what was happening inside. You drove forklifts and heavy machines to help the FBI, FEMA and firefighters sift through debris, while others reached for flashlights and searched for survivors.

While many of you worked straight through that terrible night, before the sun rose the following morning, over 200 more of you were standing in line, waiting to do what you could in the search and recovery.

Soon after that terrible day, Secretary Rumsfeld would remind us again that business would go on, that we would rebuild. He made the promise. And you kept it.

When the fires of these burning walls were finally quenched, a new fire began to burn—a spirit of fire that drove you to show your love of our country and your defiance of the terrorists, as you rebuilt these walls piece by piece. In the days and months that followed you worked and you sacrificed—night and day, weekends and holidays, rain or shine—and your families supported you in your labor for America. For that is exactly what it was.

Over the last 11 months, as thousands of people passed by the Pentagon each day, they witnessed a truly remarkable transformation. Charred walls once broken and burned became whole once more.

You, our builders, adopted the battle cry that first came from the throats of other heroes: Todd Beamer and his comrades on Flight 93. "Let’s roll," they said. They did, and so did you. You have healed this wall, and in doing so, you are helping to heal our nation.

In his address to America just days after the attacks, President Bush told us that, "Adversity introduces us to ourselves. This is true of a nation as well. In this trial," he said, "we have been reminded and the world has seen that our fellow Americans are generous and kind, resourceful and brave. Americans have shown a deep commitment to one another and an abiding love for our country."

This deep commitment and abiding love, so evident in this painstaking and energetic rebuilding, honors those who died here, those who died in New York, those who died in Pennsylvania—and those who have died and are fighting for us now on the front lines around the world in the war against terrorism.

Your work defies those who seek not to build, but to kill and destroy. The men and women who were lost here, on that morning last September, died, as Secretary Rumsfeld has said, because their attackers sensed that "the opposite of all they were, and stood for, resided here."

Those Americans died, he said, "because of how they lived—as free men and women, proud of their freedom, proud of their country and proud of their country’s cause—the cause of human freedom." They died because they were Americans.

We rebuild for the very same reason—because we are Americans.

I have long believed that America’s greatest power, even more than our vast resources, more than the beauty we see all around us, more than our great melting pot or our great military might that is owed in part to the men and women who work in this building—more than all of these, America’s greatest power is what America stands for: our enduring values; our right to govern ourselves, to enjoy peace and prosperity, justice and freedom; to find and worship God in our own way.

All of this is evident here—in your efforts—for all the world to see. Builders have always understood that structures are far more than brick and mortar and stone. Buildings are statements of hope, declarations of faith in the future, acts of commitment to plans and purposes that extend far beyond the present. And as long as the Pentagon stands—and that will be a long, long time—the Pentagon will remain a symbol of America’s resilience, endurance and resolve.

One among you, already a four-year veteran of Pentagon renovations before the attacks last September, said something that explains much about what I suspect has motivated all of you through long days and nights of demanding work. He said, "It is an honor to put back what was once destroyed."

Well, the honor at this moment is ours, as we stand among those of you who are the very best of America. To be among men and women who have demonstrated once again that America is a land where dreams are large … where hearts hunger to build a better world, and ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

Every one of you who gave the Pentagon back to America surely fulfilled these words of the prophet Isaiah: "See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name, your walls are ever before me; your builders outstrip your destroyers."

For this great blessing, the work of your hands, we are humbly grateful. As we behold your handiwork and see its message of hope, we recall our missing friends and family, who teach us still—as have you—that the legacy of selflessness, virtue and strength goes far beyond a single lifetime and survives tragedy and trial.

Isaiah teaches us another timeless lesson: out of suffering and hardship, we will one day know peace: "Yes," writes the prophet, "in joy shall you depart, in peace shall you be brought back. In the place of thorns, the cypress shall grow, instead of nettles, the myrtle. These shall stand as a testimony to the Lord, as an everlasting sign that shall not perish."

Because of Americans like you and those we remember today, the ideals for which America stands shall not perish. This building, standing whole and healed once more, tells us these ideals shall not perish. They shall flourish. They will endure as a living testament to a great nation under God.

May God bless the men and women here and across America who stand together and labor for freedom. May God bless those we lost, those who survived, and those who were left behind. May God bless the men and women of our armed forces who serve our nation so faithfully and so well. And may God bless America

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