At Pentagon, Radiant Memorial To Grace 1st Permanent Chapel

By Bill Broadway
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 9, 2002; Page B09

The reconstructed section of the Pentagon, scheduled to reopen by Sept. 11, will include a memorial chapel near the point of impact of the jet commandeered by terrorists, the Army chief of chaplains said this week.

The chapel, the first permanent space at the Pentagon for meditation and prayer, will display a colored-glass window memorializing the victims of last fall's attack, said Lt. Col. Eric Wester, a spokesman for the chaplain's office.

The five-sided window measures five feet from point to point and includes a logo designed by graphic artists at the Defense Department for use at a memorial service held at the Pentagon in October. The logo features the head of a bald eagle, the image of the Pentagon, a flowing U.S. flag and the words, "United in Memory, September 11, 2001."

Window designer Dennis Roberts, of IHS Studios in Fredericksburg, Tex., added crimson squares arranged in two circles to represent the 184 U.S. civilians and military personnel who died in the attack. The window contains more than 500 pieces of inch-thick, faceted glass (called Dalle de Verre), and it is fabricated to resemble stained glass.

Maj. Gen. Gaylord T. Gunhus, chief of chaplains for the Army, unveiled the window Thursday at a leadership training conference for chaplains in Hilton Head, S.C.

"Throughout history, art has served as the public expression of humankind's deepest emotion, thoughts and faith," he said of the project. "Through creating this stained-glass window, we will express our faith as well as honor those we remember who were taken from us."

During the three-day conference, more than 400 senior Army chaplains and their assistants participated in the window's construction, each one placing a piece of numbered glass in its designated spot. Roberts, whose studio donated its materials and services, then poured epoxy into the seams to secure pieces.

Col. Larry Racster, a chaplain in Gunhus's office who oversaw the work of 18 to 20 military chaplains supporting rescue and recovery workers last fall, said piecing the window together was emotional for everyone involved. His contribution was a crimson piece he placed in honor of his friend Lt. Col. David M. Scales, an Army reservist who died in the attack.

Pentagon officials said that plans for the chapel are incomplete and that it is uncertain whether the window will be placed in an exterior wall or in an interior wall with artificial illumination.

Racster said visitors will want to see the approximate point of impact, and when they do, they will find that the chapel and window are "a vision of hope, of overcoming and remembering the sacrifice nobody thought we would make in the Pentagon, sitting in Washington, D.C."

Wester said the permanent meditation room will be welcomed by many of the 23,000 people who work at the Pentagon. Various auditoriums and multipurpose rooms have served as temporary chapels, he said.

2002 The Washington Post Company