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Nearly Complete Pentagon Memorial Tells Story of 9/11

Article - Saturday, May 24, 2008

Larry Shaughnessy


ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) -- As president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, Jim Laychak has been involved in nearly aspect of the project's planning.

The only thing he has not done is visit the bench dedicated to his brother, Dave Laychak, who died on September 11, 2001, when a passenger airplane hit the Pentagon.

"I want to hold off and go and see his bench and touch his bench that day," said Laychak. "I wanted to save something special for me personally on September 11 when we dedicate the memorial, so I can spend some time with it then."

Laychak is one of many looking forward to the dedication of the memorial, which is being built to honor the 184 people killed when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.

"This is hallowed ground for a lot of the family members, and the essence of this place will be about them, those that we lost," Laychak said.  Watch how visitors react to the memorial »

After more than five years of fundraising, the organizers are about $13 million short of their goal. They plan to have the memorial finished and dedicated on the seventh anniversary of the attacks.

The park, which cost $22 million to build, needs another $10 million in endowment funds to make sure it's always properly maintained. So far, the Pentagon Memorial Fund has raised $19 million from sources as diverse as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, NBA star [and Navy veteran] David Robinson and the government of Taiwan.

The focus of the memorial is 184 cantilevered benches built over a pool of lighted water. Each bench is engraved on the end with the name of one of the 184 people who died on board Flight 77 or in the Pentagon that day.

The benches are arranged by age, with the bench of the youngest victim, 3-year-old Dana Falkenberg, in the far southeast corner and the bench honoring 71-year-old John Yamnicky in the northwest corner.

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