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Spivey to deliver eulogy for Pentagon victims

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–With the Pentagon now rebuilt, little evidence of the Sept. 11 attack on the facility remains.

For the families who lost loved ones at the hands of Al Qaeda terrorists, however, grief still stings their hearts and serves as a bitter reminder of the suffering human beings can inflict.

One year later, unidentified remains of the victims of the attack await burial. A funeral service will be held for five unidentified victims at Arlington National Cemetery the morning of Sept. 12.

Among those not identified are two civilian employees of the Army, one civilian employee of the Navy, a 3-year-old child who was aboard American Airlines flight 77 and an active duty Navy enlisted man.

Brig. Gen. James Spivey, associate professor of church history at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, will deliver the eulogy at the ceremony. Spivey, formerly U.S. Army assistant chief of chaplains, administered the Pentagon’s family assistance program in the wake of the attack last year.

Spivey said that the services — in addition to providing some closure for the families — will allow the nation to express its appreciation for the service rendered by the Pentagon’s military and civilian employees.

“The way that I felt then and now, and what the families still want, is for the nation to see that their family members made a meaningful and significant sacrifice for their country,” he said.

The sacrifice of civilian Pentagon employees was particularly meaningful to Spivey, who noted the defense structure of the nation involves more than the men and women who wear the uniforms of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. Many of the civilians stayed at their posts despite phone calls from family members who urged them to leave the facility, he said.

“I have a new appreciation for the fact that these folks were investing their lives every day. Although not on a battlefield, they were at their appointed place of duty on Sept. 11. The defense of our country depends on a vast network of patriots who are willing to put their lives on the line every day. They are the unseen heroes,” Spivey said.

“In some cases Pentagon employees are even more committed than soldiers. Soldiers might serve four years and then go back to a farm in Kansas, but civil service employees are people who begin working at the Pentagon at age 22 and continue to work there until they retire.”

The heroes of Sept. 11 also included countless numbers of police officers, firemen and emergency personnel who contributed to the rescue and recovery in Washington, D.C., and New York, Spivey said.

“All of a sudden people recognized policemen and firemen for what they are every day — heroes. That wasn’t the case 30 years ago during the Vietnam War era when there was an anti-establishment air about everything. So there has not only been a resurgence of patriotism, but a renewed respect for people in public service who give of themselves every day. There is renewed respect for authority, and that flies in the face of postmodernism.”

One hundred eighty-four people were killed when American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at more than 360 mph. A service dedicating the rebuilt portion of the Pentagon and a memorial for the victims will be held at the facility Sept. 11.

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  • Gregory Tomlin