Capitalizing on 9/11 and making it a religion:
Pentagon to host
9/11 march, show
DAILY NEWS | August 10, 2005
BY MICHAEL McAULIFF
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon will hold a massive march and country music concert to mark the fourth anniversary of 9/11, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an unusual announcement tucked into an Iraq war briefing yesterday.
"This year the Department of Defense will initiate an America Supports You Freedom Walk," Rumsfeld said, adding that the march would remind people of "the sacrifices of this generation and of each previous generation."
The march will start at the Pentagon, where nearly 200 people died on 9/11, and end at the National Mall with a show by country star Clint Black.
Word of the event startled some observers. "I've never heard of such a thing," said John Pike, who has been a defense analyst in Washington for 25 years and runs GlobalSecurity.org.
The news also reignited debate and anger over linking Sept. 11 with the war in Iraq.
"That piece of it is disturbing since we all know now there was no connection," said Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq veteran who heads Operation Truth, an anti-administration military booster.
Rieckhoff suggested the event was an ill-conceived publicity stunt. "I think it's clear that their public opinion polls are in the toilet," he said.
Rumsfeld's walk had some relatives of 9/11 victims fuming.
"How about telling Mr. Rumsfeld to leave the memories of Sept. 11 victims to the families?" said Monica Gabrielle, who lost her husband in the attacks.
Administration supporters insisted Rumsfeld was right to link Iraq and 9/11, and hold the rally.
"We are at war," said Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.). "It's essential that we support our troops."
He also said attacking Iraq was necessary after 9/11. "You do not defeat Al Qaeda until you stabilize the Middle East, and that's not possible as long as Saddam Hussein is in power."