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Local News Web posted Friday, March 8, 2002



Col. James Buckner (left) looks on as Col. Donald Hanchett places his piece of glass into position in a stained glass tribute to the men and women lost in the Sept. 11th attacks on the Pentagon.
-Pete Marovich/Carolina Morning News
photo: loc

Army Chaplins place pieces of stained glass into position for a memorial honoring the men and women lost in the Sept. 11th attacks on the Pentagon.
-Pete Marovich/Carolina Morning News
'It's our experience as soldiers'

Army chaplains create stained glass window for Pentagon memorial

By Noelle Phillips
Savannah Morning News

HILTON HEAD ISLAND - Chaplain Timothy Mallard can't count the number of times he forged his way through the crumbled walls of the Pentagon last fall, praying for the dead.

Every time a team of soldiers entered the building to remove a body, a military chaplain like Mallard went with them. Everyone wore protective suits and masks because of the jet fumes and decomposing bodies; Mallard used duct tape to make a cross on his suit so people would know he was a chaplain.

As they would place the dead body on a stretcher, Mallard would kneel and pray the "Nunc Dimittis," the Latin title for a prayer found in Luke 2:29-32."What I would do as a symbol, I would bend down and hold out my hands over the body," Mallard said. "Nobody ever heard me. It's what we did to bring honor and dignity to our brothers and sisters who died."

This week, Mallard joined more than 400 other Army chaplains on Hilton Head Island for a senior leadership conference. It was one of the first meetings for them since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and it was a chance for those who helped heal spiritual wounds to have their own healing.

To memorialize the Pentagon attack, the chaplains assembled a stained glass window that will be placed in a chapel, which will be included in the renovations of the damaged building.

Mallard, a captain, was assigned to the Pentagon as a chaplain. He wasn't at work when the airplane hit because he was home with a sick child. But he was called in to help recover victims and counsel rescue workers.

"It's not just a window," Mallard said. "It's our experience as soldiers."

To piece together the window, each chaplain attending the conference received a numbered piece of glass. The chaplains placed their pieces on the appropriate, numbered section of the window frame.

Dennis Roberts, a stained glass artisan with IHS Studios in Fredericksburg, Texas, finished the work. Roberts donated his time and materials to help the chaplains make the window.

"There are 184 pieces of red glass around the border to symbolize all of those lives lost in the Pentagon," Roberts said.

Maj. Gen. Gaylord Gunhus, the Army's chief chaplain, called the window a symbol of unity and hope.

"We're placing the pieces together as a ministry team in order for the light of the message of hope to be reflected in it," Gunhus said.

Gunhus also recalled the terrorist attacks in an opening speech where he urged the chaplains to be strong leaders for the Army in a time of war."The attacks of Sept. 11 are crystallized in our memories," he said. "We must remember but we must not let the memory paralyze us."

Military reporter Noelle Phillips can be reached at 652-0366 or at mailto:phillips@savannahnow.com.

 

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