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The Rev. Skip Baltz, left, joins in assembling a stained-glass window at the Westin Resort on Tuesday. The window will grace the section of the Pentagon damaged during the Sept. 11 attacks.

Chaplains honor Pentagon victims


Published Wednesday, March 6th, 2002

Military chaplains clustered around a table at the Westin Resort on Tuesday, each placing a piece of cut glass inside a wooden frame. They hope the stained-glass window they were creating eventually will hang in the Pentagon.

Some of the nearly 400 chaplains who helped assemble the window during the Senior Leadership Training Conference on Hilton Head Island, which runs through Thursday, ministered to grieving families of victims of the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon.

The stained-glass window will be presented during the conference to the Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains at the Pentagon, according to the window's designer, Dennis Roberts of Fredericksburg, Texas. Officials in that office then will donate the window to the Pentagon.

The pentagonal-shaped window has an eagle and an American flag in the center. The Pentagon stands below, with an olive branch symbolizing peace and good will.

The same design hung behind President Bush when he spoke during a memorial service at the Pentagon for the victims, Roberts said. Unlike the memorial service design, however, the window has 184 crimson pieces of glass that symbolize the loss of lives at the Pentagon.

The Rev. Larry Racster, the reserve adviser to the chief of chaplains, placed a star-shaped piece of cut glass and a crimson piece in the wooden frame Tuesday. He's taking two souvenir pieces of glass home with him, one for a friend and one for himself.

"I'll definitely put mine on my desk," he said. "When I look at it I'll think of how God allowed me to minister in ways that I couldn't have imagined."

Racster was alive to minister to families of victims at the Pentagon because he was at traffic court with his son during the attack, rather than at his office at the Pentagon, he said.

Racster's friend is alive because he was taking his son to day care rather than sitting in his cubicle at the Pentagon. Racster said he hoped the glass piece might open up his friend to talk about co-workers he lost during the attack.

"He doesn't want to talk about it yet," Racster said. "I think this might bring some closure for him."

Contact Laura Marble at 706-8143 or lmarble@islandpacket.com.

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