Memories, Grief Endure Across Region

By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In the past five years, Ron Miluszewski has been unable to shake the smell of the first victims who were brought to his hospital from the shattered Pentagon: They reeked of jet fuel.

In the past five years, Mazie Lawson's anguish at the loss of her daughter, Cecelia Richard, on Sept. 11, has lingered, undiminished.

In the past five years, Colin Wolfe grew from childhood in Manassas to the Marine Corps in Iraq, determined to battle the perpetrators of Sept. 11. Yesterday -- at the age of 19 -- he was borne to his grave in Arlington National Cemetery.

So much can happen in five years, while much stays unchanged.

Five years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, residents and visitors across the Washington region paused yesterday, away from the grand commemorations, to remember the milestone and take stock of all that has and has not changed in the half-decade since 2001.

At the Lincoln Memorial, prayers for nonviolence echoed across the Reflecting Pool and mingled with the roar of airliners soaring through the overcast that shrouded the city and its psyche.

At a downtown Washington cathedral, a churchgoer attended Mass carrying a framed photograph of a Roman Catholic priest who died in the World Trade Center.

And at a Montgomery County interfaith building project, a 74-year-old Rockville man lamented that he had not done more to improve ethnic relations in the past five years.

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"I'm looking for ways to knock down barriers," John Harris of Rockville said yesterday as he stood in the drizzling rain wearing a tool belt and jacket. "Get to know people as individuals, not categorize them by groups."

Harris and 14 other volunteers had assembled in Burtonsville to build townhouses as part of what Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County had dubbed "Interfaith Build," aimed at bringing together Christian, Jewish and Muslim volunteers. Habitat planned a group lunch and breaks for prayers. But the Muslim contingent never showed. (A representative of the Muslim group later said that he didn't have directions and that by the time he and volunteers reached each other on the phone yesterday, the build had been called off because of rain.)

At the site, the early end to the project gave Harris time to reflect. A Missouri native, onetime CIA worker and lifelong liberal-leaning Baptist, he is nothing if not honest with himself.

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