By Julia SimpkinsSeptember 12, 2019
Local heroes and first responders were the focus of this year's flag unfurling at the Pentagon Wednesday.
The predawn ceremony featured fire and emergency services personnel from throughout the National Capital Region who were directly involved in rescue operations Sept. 11, 2001.
From Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's fire chief Russell Miller represented what was then Fort Myer's Fire Company 160. Firefighters from his company were at the Pentagon when the plane hit the building.
"This is a very important day for first responders," Russell said. "Men from my company were the first at the Pentagon that day, so it has special meaning for us."
Later that day, President Donald Trump and his wife Melania held a wreath laying ceremony to honor the fallen.
"Today our nation honors and mourns the nearly 3,000 lives (who) were stolen from us on Sept. 11, 2001," the president said in a speech at the ceremony.
Former President George W. Bush joined Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a wreath laying, also at the Pentagon. Miller attended both events, making sure his company was present to meet Bush.
"I don't ever want anyone to forget 9/11 because it has such great meaning to our organization," Miller said. "I want them to be involved in the activities that go along with the day and to get the recognition they deserve because they were the first emergency responders there."
Fire Capt. James Angerett, who was at the Pentagon when the plane hit, also met Bush and Rumsfeld. He said, "That felt really good. It was very good to meet President Bush and it was exceptional to meet Secretary Rumsfeld because I was able to tell him how vividly I remember him being in the field with us -- him helping us. I was able to tell him that."
Angerett, who was directly involved in rescue and recovery, is still healing from psychological wounds that day wrought on him, he said.
"I was the captain on Engine 161 … there was myself plus three,"said Angerett. "We came into the area where the impact was. Our priority was finding our men, which was easy to do then we proceeded to help people and start with the initial firefighting. I've been here since October 1997. I generally don't work on Sept. 11, but I'm glad I worked today."