WASHINGTON (AP) -- The glass and metal cone of the Olympic Torch took an emotional route to the nation's capital Friday, passing the huge breach in the wall of the Pentagon left Sept. 11 when terrorists slammed a hijacked airliner into the massive building.
The torch arrived at the Pentagon just after noon, under clear blue skies and chilly temperatures, carried by Chief Petty Officer Bernard Brown, whose son was among the 189 killed there.
A crowd of about 300 heard the strains of a U.S. Army band and watched a multi-service ceremonial color guard welcome the symbol of 2002 Winter Games.
"This is closure for me and the families," said Staff Sgt. Chris Braman, 33, a U.S. Army cook. Braman was injured at the Pentagon the day of the attack and attempted to save three people, one of whom survived. Braman received a Purple Heart.
"I saw what our fallen looked like," he said, adding he would be thinking of that fateful day as he carried the torch away from the Pentagon's main entrance.
The torch later arrived in the District of Columbia -- more than an hour behind schedule -- in the Anacostia neighborhood, one of the poorest areas of the city. Children from a nearby elementary school cheered on the first runner, Meredith Balmon, a two-time Olympian from Rockville, Md.
"It's a tremendous honor to be a link in the chain" carrying the torch from Greece to Salt Lake City, Balmon said.
Saturday morning, the torch will be taken to the White House before proceeding on to Baltimore, Wilmington, Del., and Philadelphia. It will be carried by Elizabeth Anderson Howell, whose husband, Brady Howell, was killed in the Pentagon crash, and Georgetown University student Eric Jones, who helped carry wounded victims out of the Pentagon, said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
The runners will be greeted by President Bush, who is "very proud to welcome them to his home in Washington and to see them carry the torch for our nation," Fleischer said.
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