Secretary Asks Volunteers to "Step Up" to Pentagon Memorial Fundraiser
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2003 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is asking DoD personnel to "step up" financially for a worthy cause.
Rumsfeld is trying to help raise money to a build memorial honoring the 184 military and civilian personnel that died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
In a taped message the secretary said, "while this is not an official DoD solicitation - it is totally voluntary - I do want to say that this effort has my enthusiastic personal support."
The Pentagon Memorial Campaign is hoping to raise $20 million for the project, which will span the next two years. Between $10 to 12 million will go toward construction and the rest will be used for maintenance, DoD officials have said. They plan to have the memorial completed by the spring of 2005.
The memorial will be built on nearly two acres of land on the west side of the building along the path that American Airlines Flight 77 took just before it hit the Pentagon.
The winning design for the memorial is by Keith Kaseman and Julie Beckman of Kaseman Beckman Amsterdam Studio. The design was chosen from more than 1,000 entries that poured in from around the world. The design features 184 benches with the engraved name of each victim, "ranging from age 3 to age 71," Rumsfeld said in his message.
"In the years ahead, millions of Americans will see this moving memorial and think back to what happened on Sept. 11," he stated. "And they will remember our brave men and women in uniform who rose to the challenge in the months that followed. They will be reminded that our country cannot be free unless we are strong."
Rumsfeld observed that Jim Laychak whose brother died in the attack, said it well at the campaign's kick-off. He quoted Laychak as saying, "We have one chance to do this right - a chance to build a great memorial, a place of remembrance for those who died, a place of comfort for those of us left behind."
The Pentagon Memorial will be constructed entirely from private contributions. Rumsfeld said no tax dollars will be involved in the building of this memorial, "so we need volunteers to step up."
"Let us never forget those who gave their lives for the cause of liberty," he concluded.
The DoD Personnel Pentagon Memorial Organization has been set up to run the campaign, which is slated to end Aug. 8. The organization is a voluntary association of civilian and military personnel and their dependents.