By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
Oct. 16, 2007 - Representatives of Fairfax County, Va., donated $100,000 today to help build the Pentagon Memorial that will honor the 184 people, including 20 county residents, killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the building. County Supervisor Penelope A. Gross presented the check that brings funds raised so far to more than $15 million, Pentagon Memorial Fund spokesman Jerry Mullins reported.
The memorial fund committee's goal is to raise $22 million to build and maintain the memorial.
"This makes everyone excited," Mullins said of Fairfax County's gift. "We have a big team of folks either working or donating money to get this memorial built."
Among other contributors are the Commonwealth of Virginia, which donated $100,000, and the State of Maryland, which contributed $250,000, Mullins said. In addition, the private sector continues to support the effort, both through corporate and individual donations.
Gross, who took the fundraising request to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said she felt it appropriate that the county honor those killed, particularly its own residents who were in the building or aboard hijacked American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into it.
"This is an expression of Fairfax County caring about its residents and the effect the Sept. 11 attacks continue to have on our county and our country," she said.
Noting that a $100,000 donation is "no small feat" for the county, she said its taxpayers can feel proud of their role in helping build a memorial that will keep the Sept. 11 victims "forever in our minds and hearts."
Plans call for the Pentagon Memorial to be dedicated in September 2008, Mullins said.
The memorial is being built on nearly two acres of land along the path the passenger jet took just before it hit the building.
It will include 184 benches, each with a lighted reflecting pool beneath it and a nameplate of a victim of the Pentagon attack. 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 the hijacked jet will face away from the building, toward the sky, explained Jim Laychak, president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund.
Laychak, whose brother David was an Army civilian employee killed in the attack, expressed hope that the memorial 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."