Window shines light on 9-11 tragedy

Pentagon stain glass window graphic. (Courtesy of IHS Studios)
Pentagon stain glass window graphic. (Courtesy of IHS Studios) (Click on the photo to view a higher resolution photo)

by Spc. Neisha Rogers

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 21, 2000) -- More than 400 chaplains and chaplain assistants recently assembled a stain glass window to be hung at the Pentagon later this year in honor of the Sept. 11 victims.

Each chaplain and chaplain's assistant was given a numbered piece of glass to place in the window frame during the Chaplain Corps Annual Senior Leadership Training conference at Hilton Head, S.C. in early March.

"Through creating this stained glass window, we will express our faith as well as honor those we remember who were taken from us," said Chief of Chaplains Maj. Gen. Gaylord T. Gunhus.

The Pentagon-shaped stained glass window will be hung in a memorial chapel planned for construction in the area of the building destroyed by the hijacked airliner.

The design will include the head of the American Bald Eagle in the center with the American flag waving in the background; an olive branch symbolizing peace and goodwill; as well as inscriptions at the top and bottom of the window reading "United in Memory" and the date September 11, 2001.

The window was constructed from more than 500 individual pieces of stained glass including 184 pieces of red glass to represent the 184 men and women who were killed at the Pentagon.

"It's very symbolic to take the broken pieces of glass and put them together to make a beautiful picture," said Lt. Col. Richard D. King, chief of Personnel Proponent Office, Chaplains Center and School, Fort Jackson, S.C.

Dennis E. Roberts, artist and owner of IHS Studios in Fredricksburg, Texas, who donated the piece, said he felt honored and privileged to be able to help create something to remember the victims of the attacks, especially considering his own military service.

Roberts said the memorial took more than 50 hours to design and more than three weeks to cut each piece of glass to fit into the frame.

"It's awe inspiring. The artist donating his time to design it and then letting the soldiers put it together. It's like being a part of another part of history," said Master Sgt. Rashida Valvassori, 77th Regional Support Command, Fort Totten, N.Y.

The annual conference focused on spiritual leadership and having a positive influence on soldiers. Many of the chaplains who attended the conference were stationed very close to the areas that were attacked. They said being a part of the assembly had special meaning because it allowed them to begin their own healing process.

"It gives us a chance to reflect, refocus, and renew our spirit," Gunhus said.