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Block by block, Pentagon rises again

Often eclipsed by the emotion of the NYC ground-zero cleanup, the Pentagon fix has its own touching milestones.

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Under blue skies and a gentle breeze, the scene from the grassy hill overlooking the Pentagon is unsettlingly peaceful.

Largely eclipsed by the nation's emotional focus on the ground zero cleanup in New York City, the shattered Pentagon is looking like its old self. Workers hoist into place, one by one, some of the last few blocks of bisque-colored Indiana limestone – on schedule to finish this week a near-perfect replication of the military headquarters' stately 1940s façade.

But when inbound jets approach on the way to nearby Reagan National Airport, it can feel like a rolling replay of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

That roar above is a reminder construction manager Daniel Monte doesn't need. At 9:38 on the morning of the attack, he was outside the Pentagon's west corner when he saw American Airlines flight 77 drop down, clip two light posts, and veer left.

"At that point, I knew the plane was not going back up," Mr. Monte recalls. He ran from the building, hearing the jet engines rev just before the aircraft plowed into the Pentagon. The blast threw him to the ground. He struggled toward the grassy hill overlooking the Pentagon, as secondary explosions ripped the air and the edifice began belching black smoke and red flames from burning jet fuel.

The strike killed 125 people working in the Pentagon, in addition to 64 people aboard flight 77. It missed Monte by less than a minute. He was just leaving the building near the Naval Operations Center as a naval officer helped two women scan their cards to go in. "Those two ladies and that gentleman never left the Navy Ops," he says.


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