Never Forgotten…National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial 2015

     One of the ‘must do-see’ things in Washington D.C. this time was to visit the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.  We went to see it when we rode to the Pentagon parking lot to stage for the Rolling Thunder Run.  Once parked and since we had ample time, we walked from one Pentagon parking lot, over the highway overpass to the memorial which was in another parking lot.  From a distance, we could tell where the American Airlines Flight 77 had made impact.  That side of the Pentagon had been obviously newer in masonry but all other evidence was nonexistent except for the Memorial below.  Once we arrived at the memorial, it was like none other. 

     The photos are our own but for accuracy, we will quote verbage from the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial website:

The 184 Memorial Units within the Pentagon Memorial are located on the age line according to the year the victim was born.  The age lines, denoted by stainless steel strips that cross the Memorial, begin at the zero line, which spans from the Gateway to the entrance of the Memorial.  Etched into the granite zero line is the date and time of the attack:  “SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 9:37 A.M.”

Each Memorial Unit is a cantilevered bench, a lighted pool of flowing water, and a permanent tribute, by name, to each victim, in one single element.  Each memorial bench is made of stainless steel and inlaid with smooth granite.  Each Memorial Unit contains a pool of water, reflecting light in the evenings onto the bench and surrounding gravel field.
Each Memorial Unit is also specifically positioned in the Memorial to distinguish victims who were in the Pentagon from those who were on board American Airlines Flight 77. At the 125 Memorial Units honoring the victims of the Pentagon, visitors see the victim’s name and the Pentagon in the same view. At the Memorial Units honoring the 59 lives lost on Flight 77, the visitor sees the victim’s name and the direction of the plane’s approach in the same view.
Victims from the same family are linked by a plaque at the end of the pool of water, which lists their family members who also died in the attack, forever binding the family together.

The Pentagon Memorial design was developed by Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman. Their vision for the Memorial was selected from more than 1,100 submissions by a panel of architects, family members, and public figures in the Washington, D.C. area, including two former Secretaries of Defense.

     As we silently walked around reading the names of the victims on the edge of each of their benches, we noticed a few had small American flags placed on top while others had small flower bunches stemmed into the waters.  It was quite a somber place of reflection even though there were quite a few visiting at the same time as us.

     Now, seemingly odd to us, we noticed several people, mostly children on a field trip that were ‘sitting on the memorial benches’ in which, we thought to be disrespectful; that this was no different than someone sitting on a headstone at a cemetery.  Quietly, one of us approached some youngsters telling them to be respectful of the memorial; they told us that their teacher said they were ‘allowed to sit on the benches’.  At that point, we thought perhaps we were wrong figuring that’s what the designers intended the benches to be used for but then another part of us thought that despite the ‘design’, it was still a memorial and utmost respect should be warranted at each site and the sitting on the benches should be reserved for family and close friends of each victim.  We’ve still yet to find an answer to that question.  It probably goes with personal discretion, ‘if it feels right……”.

     Aside from that, the Memorial offered us a place to reflect on those moments our Country was changed forever.  When you are visiting the Washington D.C., please make it a point to visit this Memorial.  You will not be disappointed.

Leave a Reply