Meet Manal Ezzat, the Muslim engineer who rebuilt the crash site 9/11 Pentagon as a church

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You will never forget eighteen years ago on September morning, Manal Ezzat fled from Pentagon ritual building in such a bounce that fell to hijab off.

The next day, when the fires were still burning, Ezzat decided to rebuild. As a result of her vision, and the work of a huge team of public servants, what emerged came from the ashes: new use of your site forever marked a tragedy.

Today, there is a church at the site where terrorists piloted the plane into the Pentagon. Ten years after the murder of 184 people here, military employees from all faiths gather every day to pray.

“There was a lot of emotion in that effort,” said Ezzat this year, thinking of the anniversary that she cannot fully understand. “We just wanted to make a peaceful place that could help clean up the tragedy.”

Ezzat, an Army employee of the Engineer Corps, who was project manager for Army space in Pentagon at the time of the attack, knew when he and his collaborators were responsible for designing the reconstruction she didn't want to do. segment of the Pentagon into office space again. No one would want his office then, she was reasoned. Instead, she searched a worthwhile new purpose.

What emerged was a quiet sanctuary with blue coupled seats and prayer books from different denominations. Stained glass windows pay tribute to those who died here: “United in Memory, 11 September, 2001.” Anyone who wishes to walk near a memorial, where the name of each victim is written on the wall, and his life stories, as written by their loved ones, are told in two thick books. Pentagon unwanted employees can only visit the church without stopping at the memorial to enter through alternative doors.


Jim Mattis, then defense secretary, visits the Pentagon Memorial Church in 2017. (Air Force Staff Team Sergeant Jette Carr / Secretary of State for Public Affairs Office)

A schedule on the wall shows every Wednesday's Bishop and Lutheran services, Hindu services and Jewish study sessions every Thursday, Greek Orthodox services every Friday, Buddhist prayers twice a month, and more.

The church's most frequent users, according to the chaplain Monica R. Lawson, are the Catholics who attend daily Mass and Muslims among a massive 26,000 people in the Pentagon. Some Muslims wish to visit the church five times a day, traditionally, when they need a private space to pray. As a group, Muslims pray the day daily in the middle of the day in the church and perform their ceremony every Friday.

In the case of Ezzat – who are Muslim and worried about the people who blamed their entire religion because the terrorists who attacked the Pentagon were Muslim extremists – looking at the Muslims who were dedicated to the Muslims; US military employees are praying in the church they are performing.

“On a personal level, I heard things, negative things. … You heard it in the halls and corridors. , Oh, he did that and he did. ”He hurt me,” she said. She wanted to make an argument – that the terrorists were terrible people, not representatives of their religion. But she breaks it. “I heard it and I'm upset about it, and a minute later, I'm doing it,” she said.

Qawiy Abdullah Sabree, a cyber security expert who was a civilian employee at Pagagon for 27 years, goes to church every day, sometimes twice on Friday. He often convinces Muslim prayers to be accompanied by colleagues who may be reading from a Christian prayer book, standing for a Jew or sitting in a quiet dream.

“It gives me to escape from the daily routine of work, to have a place and to reflect on your faith, to reflect on the creator who gave us life. It is very good, ”he said. “The Pentagon is a place of employment. … It is a privilege to have a place for prayer. ”

Sabree was just away from co-workers killed when the plane hit the Pentagon. If he did not go away to talk to another employee, he says, that he died with them. “You don't forget it. And so you remember it and keep it happening again, never, ”he said. “The space in which the church really is is a reminder space.”

Lawson, a former commander of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and one of three full-time chaplains based at Patagon, says that she sees this church as an example of the American values ​​that terrorists could not destroy.

“Every day I come here, I think of that,” she said. “It is a reminder of the privilege and honor that we should be living in a country where we can worship here at work. The first day I started here, he met me, the importance – where the church is located. ”

While Protestants are the other two Pentagon chaplains like Lawson, the team chaplains work to recruit qualified leaders for services for all other religious groups who wish to use space. “We all say one nation about God,” she said. “When you walk in and see that, and people respect each other's faith, it is a blessing.”

Ezzat said she understands that her team created a prayer space where Muslims who give their careers to American security can find a space where an extremist attacked. “I think it's beautiful,” she said, “The true prayers that occur in this space, whether it is Jewish prayer, Islamic prayer, Christian prayer. "In Islam, we believe that prayers reach – pre-arranged – with the dead, wherever they are."

The rush to the Pentagon was rebuilt very consuming. The members of the young service who give tours to the Patagon to visitors are still worried – how was the building team told to rebuild in three years, and that it was successful in doing less than one. How they worked nearly 24/7 to do it, and then they donated all that overtime pay, about $ 3 million, to pay for this church and this memorial and to support the families of these. victim.

At the end of that year, Ezzat was exhausted, and it was too pleasant to die the co-workers she lost. “When I worked at Patagon, I felt like I was with my second family. … He destroyed me, ”she said. “I had to go in the future. The building brought a lot of memories back. I couldn't wait. ”

Ezzat received a doctorate in structural engineering and then worked in private practice before joining the Engineers Corps. Her first role was in the Choir working on the restoration of the Pentagon, a year-long project taking place when the 2001 attack took place.

Ezzat says that her earlier work that reinforced outside the building saved a costly project that she fought for approval, a life when the terrorists attacked. The floors above the accident site fell more than 20 minutes after the initial impact, enough time for everyone – Ezzat says it is 1,500 people – to walk out alive.

When the church's reconstruction was carried out in 2002, she asked for a move out of Patagonia and she got it.

When she is praying, five times a day, she is praying alone.

Today, the program manager for schools is the Department of Defense, which educates the children of military members worldwide. Ezzat, who came to the United States from Egypt as a young child, says that she cannot imagine a job she would need or support members of the service who defend American ideals.

For almost 25 years in the Corps under her belt and new grandchildren drawing her attention, she is beginning to think about retirement.

She is still proud of what she took out of tragedy 18 years ago, the time she created a religious refuge from wreck. “It is part of the healing process,” she said.

(tTTTranslate) Pentagon (t) Muslim Palette (t) prayer (t) prayer (t) Islam (t) 9/11 (t) 11 September (t) engineer (t) rebuilt

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