By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Sept. 7, 2007 - When it is completed in about a year from now, the Pentagon Memorial will commemorate the sacrifice of not only the 184 victims who died here, but also those who perished at the other Sept. 11, 2001, attack sites in New York City and Pennsylvania, Deputy Secretary Gordon R. England said here today. "It is very fitting and proper that we remember all those who were killed here that day with this memorial, because this is just not a memorial here at the Pentagon, this is America's memorial," England said at a gathering of Pentagon Memorial Fund managers, private and corporate donors, family members of victims, and construction workers.
The world experienced irreversible change as a result of the Sept. 11, terrorist attacks on the United States, England said. Nearly 3,000 people were killed at the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.
People forget that citizens from 60 different nations were among those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks with terrorist-hijacked airliners, England said next to the memorial's construction site adjacent to the Pentagon.
England also saluted America's servicemembers and coalition partners, noting they've "served so magnificently since 9-11 to protect our freedoms and our liberties."
Jim Laychak, president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, said key features of the two-acre memorial are 184 illuminated benches that represent each victim of the Pentagon attack. Laychak lost his brother, David, during the attack.
"You think back about how awful you felt that day," Laychak said. "And, then you come out here and look at the progress that's being made, and you look at what we've done."
The Pentagon Memorial is "a way to take such a tragic event and turn it into something positive," Laychak said.
About $15 million has been collected for construction of the memorial so far, he said, noting another $7 million is needed. Victims' families also want to collect another $10 million to be used to maintain the memorial.
"But, the focus right now is making sure we get the money to finish the construction," Laychak said. Communications firm AT&T and the nation of Taiwan each contributed $1 million toward construction of the Pentagon Memorial, he said. Other donors who've made significant contributions include the nation of Australia, the commonwealth of Virginia, and the state of Maryland, he added.
Establishing the Pentagon Memorial "is a labor of love for all of us," Laychak said. "It's a labor of love for the families; it's a labor of love for the people that are working on this project.
"And, I am looking forward to the day a year from now, when I say to people: 'I welcome you to the Pentagon Memorial.'"