A veteran's gift
Memories of Pentagon's pain held together in
Rick McKay WASHINGTON
Relatives of the 184 people
killed last September in the terrorist attack on
the Pentagon will see Fredericksburg artist
Dennis Roberts' memorial window today. The
window, which weighs about 250 pounds, features
the phrase 'United in Memory.'
Glass artist Dennis Roberts
holds a replica of the Pentagon Memorial Window,
which he created in remembrance of Sept. 11.
Roberts adapted a patriotic Pentagon design to
glass and added 184 pieces of red glass in two
circles to represent each person killed in the
terrorist attack on the Pentagon last year. 'It
was a real honor for me to do this,' he
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
FREDERICKSBURG — Stained glass and other glass art
designed by Dennis Roberts graces churches, mosques and
synagogues across the nation. But a window he donated to
the Pentagon evokes a sense of light, color, memory and
patriotism that stands apart from his previous work.
Five-sided like the Pentagon, the window is the focal
point of a memorial chapel built in the outer ring of
the Pentagon at the fourth corridor — the area where an
airliner commandeered by terrorists crashed exactly one
Ten thousand people will attend a Defense Department
memorial ceremony at the Pentagon today. President Bush
will speak. Afterward, relatives of the civilians and
military personnel killed by the crash of American
Airlines Flight 77 will visit the chapel to see the
window for the first time. A formal dedication of the
chapel and window will be scheduled later.
The Pentagon Memorial Window measures 5 feet from
point to point and is based on a logo designed by
Defense Department artists for a memorial service held
in October 2001. The window's images are familiar icons:
a bald eagle, an olive branch, an American flag and the
Pentagon. The phrases "United in Memory" and "September
11, 2001," are spelled out in amber.
Roberts adapted the design to glass by modifying
colors and shapes, and added 184 pieces of ruby red
glass in two circles to represent each person killed in
the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Altogether, the
window consists of more than 500 pieces of inch-thick
faceted glass, called Dalle de Verre, that were cut by
hand and hammered on the edges to expose layered
surfaces on which light plays. The window is so heavy —
about 250 pounds — that it had to be made in two
Roberts, the founder and president of IHS Studios in
Fredericksburg, was chosen for the project not only
because of his artistic skill, but because of his
unusual approach to final assembly.
Lt. Col. Eric Wester, an Army chaplain, observed
Roberts' approach at a conference of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America in Indianapolis a month
before the terrorist attacks. Roberts had church leaders
put pre-cut pieces of colored glass into place for a
window later installed at a church in Kentucky.
When Wester approached Roberts about a window for the
Pentagon, Roberts offered to undertake the project for
free. He also donated 12-inch replicas to the victims'
"I was nine years in the Marine Corps Reserves,"
Roberts said. "It was a real honor for me to do
Roberts, 55, founded his glass art company 20 years
ago after a career in airline cargo sales. He has 12
employees. He and his son, David, who is the company's
vice president, will attend the Pentagon ceremony
On Monday, at his studio amid cedars and oaks in the
Hill Country, Roberts recalled the most poignant moment
of the project. It was in March, when about 400 Army
chaplains and assistants representing various faiths met
in Hilton Head, S.C., and placed numbered pieces of
glass into designated positions on a pattern. Then epoxy
was poured to form the joints between the pieces. Tears
flowed as well.
"A lot of them were holding their pieces of glass and
praying," Roberts said. "It was a very uplifting time. I
guarantee you every chaplain can walk up and point out
his piece of glass."
Wester, who aided victims within 10 minutes of the
crash at the Pentagon, participated in the assembling of
"Dennis is a remarkable man, as a churchman and as a
patriot," Wester said. "Part of my motive in contacting
Dennis was an awareness that so much of our true
spiritual peace and healing is beyond words.
"For me, being able to commit something to a work of
art leaves a lasting sense of connection and hope — hope
in the sense that future generations will see the light
that comes through this window and recognize the service
and sacrifice of so many who have gone before us."