Pentagon Memorial Bench Prototype Unveiled

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2007 - Members of the Pentagon Memorial Fund Committee gave a sneak preview today of a prototype of the 184 benches incorporated in the memorial's design to honor those killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack on the Pentagon.

"This is a great day to show another milestone" toward completion of the Pentagon Memorial, tentatively slated for September 2008, Jim Laychak, president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, told reporters today. Ground was broken for the project in June.

Laychak and several other family members of those killed in the attack gathered today to view the prototype of 184 benches that will represent each victim. Laychak's brother, David, was an Army civilian employee who worked at the Pentagon and was killed in the attack.

Each sleek bench will have a lighted reflecting pool beneath it and a nameplate of a victim. Benches for the 125 people who died inside the Pentagon will be oriented toward the building, and benches for the 59 passengers and crew aboard hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 face away from the building, toward the sky, Laychak explained.

The benches will dot a 2-acre Pentagon Memorial Park just outside the crash site that Laychak said was designed to give visitors a place to remember the events of Sept. 11 and those lost. He expressed hope that it will bring comfort and a sense of reflection for those left behind.

"We wanted a place for people to think, not a place to tell them what to think," he said.

Once completed, the memorial will provide a lasting tribute to the victims of Sept. 11, both individually and collectively, and "tell a story of what happened," Laychak said. "It will be a unique place," he said. "(Just as) 9/11 was like no other day, we wanted a place (to remember it) like no other."

Rosemary Dillard, vice president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, said seeing the prototype of the benches to those killed, including her husband, Eddie Dillard, "gave me goosepimples."

"The Pentagon Memorial has so much meaning to all of us, and we know it will have a lot of meaning to visitors here," she said. "We know (all the victims of the attack) are heroes, and they are going to all be remembered."

Fundraising for the memorial continues, with about $13 million collected so far, Laychak reported. While focusing on larger donations, including $1 million donated by AT&T in late 2006, smaller, private gifts are welcome too. "We want all Americans to feel that they are a part of this effort," he said.

For more information about or to donate to the Pentagon Memorial Fund, visit the organization's Web site.

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