Correction to This Article
A Sept. 13 article about a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks contained incorrect information about the family of Charles Falkenberg and Leslie Whittington. Whittington was an associate professor of public policy at Georgetown University and was to serve as a visiting fellow at Australian National University at Canberra.

Lost and, Sometimes, Never Found

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By Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 13, 2002

In the white marble amphitheater where Americans have laid to rest the unknown from wars past, the 184 victims of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon one year ago were remembered at an emotional and unique group burial yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery.

More than a thousand family members attended the funeral with full military honors for victims at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

The mourners sat on long, curved marble benches under a brilliant blue sky in the 82-year-old open-air amphitheater. They all faced a single casket. Inside the coffin, draped with an American flag, were the commingled remains of 25 victims.

"This amphitheater echoes with the collective mourning of a grieving nation," said Army Brig. Gen. James T. Spivey, who spent months with the families while they waited for victims to be identified, and who returned yesterday to deliver the funeral address.

While all 125 people killed at the Pentagon and the 59 passengers and crew members aboard American Airlines Flight 77 were honored in the service, yesterday's ceremony was conducted with particular consideration for five victims for whom no remains were found, who range from a retired Army colonel to a 3-year-old girl who was aboard Flight 77.

"Oh, how we prayed with you last year for them to be identified," Spivey told mourners. "Today, we grieve with you even more, because this never happened."

"This day, these five join the unknown of past wars, even as we pursue the war that is still unfolding," Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said in his remarks.

Nine members from the family of Rhonda Rasmussen, an Army budget analyst who was killed in the attack, attended the funeral, and for them, the service helped ease the pain of never recovering her remains.

"We felt that Rhonda's spirit was there, and that things are going to be better now," her husband, Floyd Rasmussen, 60, said after the service.

Family members were also present representing the four other victims of whom no trace was found: retired Army Col. Ronald Golinski of Columbia, a civilian Pentagon worker; Ronald John Hemenway, a Navy electronics technician and native of Kansas City, Kan.; James T. Lynch of Manassas, a civilian electronics technician in the Navy's command center; and 3-year-old Dana Falkenberg, a passenger on Flight 77.

Dana died with her sister Zoe, 8, and parents Leslie Whittington and Charles Falkenberg of University Park as they began a trip to Australia, where Charles Falkenberg, a professor at Georgetown University, was to become a visiting professor.

"Even the innocence of a 3-year-old child was not safe that day," Spivey said.


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