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Pentagon Kicks Off Memorial Fundraising Campaign

By Casie Vinall
Special to American Forces Press Service

Washington, July 21, 2003 – Family members and defense officials alike intend to ensure that those who died at the Pentagon Sept. 11, 2001, are remembered.

Raymond F. DuBois, DoD director of administration and management, today launched a fund-raising campaign to build a memorial for the victims of the terrorist attack.

After the 9-11 attacks, family and friends of the victims met in nearby Crystal City at the Family Support Center. "How was the Pentagon going to remember the family members that died?" Jim Laychak recalled someone asking.

"I remember thinking, 'What if five to six years from now, people are driving by, and they can't remember what side was hit?'" recalled Laychak, president of the Pentagon Memorial Family Steering Committee. "That one thought started me down the path to where I am today.

"We have one chance to do this right," he said, "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, and a gift for future generations."

The Pentagon Memorial will be built on nearly two acres of land along the path the passenger jet took just before it hit the building.

DuBois kicked off the fund-raising campaign to launch the $20 million project, which will span the next two years. He said $10 to 12 million will go toward construction and the rest will be used for maintenance.

The fund-raiser, sponsored by the voluntary Defense Department Personnel Pentagon Memorial Organization, begins today and will end Aug. 8. Private contributions will be the sole source of funding for the memorial's construction.

With approval from the secretary of defense, the fund-raising effort is directed first at the Pentagon military and civilian personnel in the Washington metropolitan region.

The family steering committee, DuBois said, "created a tax-exempt, non-profit organization called the Pentagon Memorial Fund, Inc. to raise funds for the memorial from non-DoD employees -- the greater public, corporations, foundations.

"But the secretary thought it was important that we gather together as a family, those of us who work for the department and try and jump start this fund-raising opportunity. Now it is only appropriate, as I indicated," he continued, "to have those of us closest to this memorial -- in time, in place and in emotion -- to demonstrate our connection to this memorial with our contributions."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began planning the outdoor memorial immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks. Corps officials selected a winning design from over 1,000 contest entries.

The design by Keith Kaseman and Julie Beckman of Kaseman Beckman Amsterdam Studio was selected as the winner.

"Our initial idea was to dedicate a unique place to each of the individuals that were lost that day," Beckman said. It evolved through many discussions, she said, and the "process grew over time."

The memorial will be constructed with 184 units, one for each victim. Each unit consists of a cantilevered bench inscribed with the victim's name and a glowing light pool underneath. Units will be arranged according to the age of the victims, from 3 to 71.

"I think it is peaceful," said Rosemarie Dillard, vice president of the family steering committee, "We wanted a place that people could go to, and you could think, and you could relax, and the water does that."

Dillard's husband, Eddie, 54, was a passenger on board American Airlines Flight 77 when it was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon. Rosemarie was a base manager for American Airlines and was in the supervisory chain of the four flight attendants who perished.

"My husband was a history major. He loved history," Dillard said, "and now, for him to be a part of history means an awful lot to me. It also means an awful lot to me that the employees that I was managing at that time will always be honored. It overwhelms me at times. It's hard to talk about, but it's just a good feeling."

Another widow, Donna Teepe, whose husband Karl, 57, worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency as a financial resources manager, said she thought this project was a good way "to help us remember our loved ones." Since the attack, she said, people from across the country have helped her get through this difficult time -- some friends, some strangers.

Teepe participated in viewing the finalists in the design competition. She said the one chosen was her favorite.

"I like the design," she said. "It seemed very serene and content and a nice place to visit and to help remember and reflect."

"I'm thrilled with the outcome," said Janice Punches, widow of Navy Capt. Jack D. Punches, who worked at the Pentagon as deputy head of Navy Interagency Support Branch. "I think it's a peaceful place that my son and daughter and I can go. It'll be nice to go lay a flower there."

Defense officials hope to complete the memorial in the spring of 2005. For additional information on the Pentagon memorial, visit http://memorial.pentagon.mil.

(Casie Vinall is an intern working for DefendAmerica.mil in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageFrom the left, Donna Teepe, Janice Punches and Rosemarie Dillard lost their husbands in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon. The three widows participated in the Pentagon Memorial Kick-Off Ceremony July 21 to raise money for the memorial to be built. Dillard is vice president of the Pentagon Memorial Family Steering Committee for the memorial. DefendAmerica photo by Casie Vinall  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageRay DuBois, DoD director of administration and management, launches a fund-raising campaign at the Pentagon July 21 to build a memorial honoring those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. "This will be a beautiful memorial and a sacred place, where not only family members can come to find peace with their departed loved ones, but all visitors to the Pentagon, and the Pentagon employees for generations to come will be reminded of 9-11 and the great loss we all suffered," he said.  
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