The Ripon Forum

Volume 40, No. 4

Aug - Sept 2006 Issue

Never Forget

By on October 19, 2015 with 0 Comments

Pentagon Memorial will be a fitting remembrance for the victims of 9/11

by JAMES J. LAYCHAK

Distance runners talk about the “bell lap.” Horse trainers talk about the “home stretch.” At most football games, you see players hold up four fingers signifying the start of the fourth quarter. 

What do all those expressions have in common? They all recognize that to finish a race or game, special effort is needed. A special effort is required to reach the goals that those individuals or teams are trying to achieve. Nobody ever won a game or a race by coasting through the final moments of the contest.  

Nighttime depiction of the Pentagon Memorial. The Memorial will feature 184 cantilevered benches, each to be lit at night, and each inscribed with the name of a victim who lost his or her life on September 11, 2001.

Nighttime depiction of the Pentagon Memorial. The Memorial will feature 184 cantilevered benches, each to be lit at night, and each inscribed with the name of a victim who lost his or her life on September 11, 2001.

The Pentagon Memorial broke ground on June 15th. This was a significant day — a day that marked the beginning of construction of the memorial and gave us a view of the finish line, which will be a ceremony to dedicate the completed memorial in the fall of 2008. That will no doubt be a day to cherish. It will be a day in which everyone who remembers the horror and tragedy of September 11th will be able to see a memorial that not only pays tribute to the lives lost on 9/11, but also offers returning servicemen and women a place to visit and know why they were called to duty in the Long War. 

The Pentagon Memorial will be on a 1.9 acre park that sits adjacent to the west wall of the Pentagon, within sight of the impact zone. The park will be filled with 184 cantilevered benches that rest over reflecting pools of water, one for each of the fallen. The benches will be aligned in order of age from youngest to oldest. They will be angled toward the air for those who lost their lives on Flight 77, and toward the Pentagon for those whose lives were claimed in the building. Each bench will be unique in its position within the park, reminding us that every life lost was special and unique. The Pentagon Memorial will truly be a place of remembrance, reflection and renewal. 

Yet amid these lofty thoughts, today, tomorrow, and next month there remains work to be done.   

Indeed, as the President of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, part of my job is to create a level of excitement and anticipation for the memorial — to let people know what it will look like when complete and how it will impact visitors who look at the names on the benches and remember 9/11. But in the afterglow of the groundbreaking and recent excitement, I find myself repeating one message to everyone I come into contact with, whether they are a family member, a donor or an interested party. The message is simple — it is time to finish the job we started. The finish line is not that far away, and now is when we need everyone’s support the most. 

The Pentagon Memorial Fund has reached the halfway point in our campaign to raise the funds needed to construct the Pentagon Memorial, having raised over $11 million of the $22 million that is needed. We cannot coast or rely on our past accomplishments in this regard. We still need to work very hard to raise the remaining funds, to raise awareness and to make sure this great memorial is built.  

For those who have yet to contribute I invite you to visit our web site at www.pentagonmemorial.org and view the design of what will be a very thought-provoking memorial in a city of very special memorials. If you are in the area, I invite you to drive by the Pentagon and remember the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks and know that you can be a part of turning that tragedy into a powerful reminder for all Americans – a reminder that calls on everyone to never forget what happened on that terrible day in September five years ago.  RF


James J. Laychak is the President of the Pentagon Memorial Fund. He lost a brother in the attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. 

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