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Spontaneous Memorial to Terrorists' Victims Grows Daily

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 28, 2001 – As her father held her in his arms, Samantha Murphy, 4, asked him about the big board full of American flags and handwritten notes they were looking at. "This is a place where people can say goodbye," he said.

They were visiting a place where hundreds of people have said goodbye to victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. The place is called "the memorial." It's a place where a few people first laid a bunch of flowers and mementos on a green hillside near the Pentagon crash site. Then, in the days that followed, others came along and added more flowers, handwritten notes, teddy bears, flags, posters, candles, soft drinks and a host of other items. Then came large posters, banners and a bulletin board.

The word spread about its existence, and now the spontaneous memorial grows in size every day.

Army Maj. Ken Murphy and his wife, Kris, were visiting the memorial with their young daughters, Samantha, and Danielle, 2.

"We were telling Samantha that sometimes people make bad choices and a lot of people from other countries made bad choices and did this," said Maj. Ken Murphy, who works at the Pentagon in the Army's Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.

Murphy said the memorial would "help guys like me who have been so busy since this happened. We went into what we've been trained to do. It has been almost two weeks now, and this is the first time I've really looked outside the building.

"So it (the memorial) helps to put things into perspective," Murphy said. "It will keep what happened in people's minds for a long time and they will not forget about the lives that were lost."

Most of the people visiting the memorial seemed to be civilians, Murphy said. "I don't think the press has brought out the fact that the majority of the people killed inside were civilians -- people who were just doing their jobs," he said.

When nine-year-old Sarah Hay of Haddonfield, N.J., found out her family was coming to Washington, she told her mother she wanted to see the Pentagon crash site. Her mother, Franjee Hay, said, "We were coming for her grandfather's 75th birthday and she said, Mom, we're going to Washington; can we see the Pentagon?'

"I said do you really want to see it," Franjee Hay said. "She said, 'Yeah, I think I really, really need to see it.' I said yes because I think it's something they'll never forget. They have to see it so they'll never forget it."

Sarah said she wanted to see the crash site "because I wanted to tell my class about what happened, and how bad this was, and that we should pray for people who died."

Her brother, George, 12, said he wanted to see the Pentagon, too. "It seemed so horrible," the sixth-grader said. "Seeing it on TV doesn't really tell you what's going on. You have to see it for yourself to really realize what the horror is. Now that I've seen it, I realize how bad this was. It was just horrible. It just seemed like a movie from the TV."

George said he'd definitely talk to his class at Haddonfield Middle School about the Pentagon crash site and the memorial. Sarah is a fourth grader at Central Elementary School in Haddonfield.

Their mother said seeing the Pentagon brings closure for them. "It's important that they realize that it's not just a picture on television -- this really happened," she said. "They were ready to come see this. But I don't think I would take them to the New York site because that would be a little bit too overwhelming it's too big. But I appreciate that she wanted to see the Pentagon. She'll remember this forever.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA Marine Corps flag is part of a spontaneous memorial that sprang up near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSomeone wrote "America is still free. We will never accept terrorism" on the back of the bulletin board at a spontaneous memorial that sprang up near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageWithout a word, Navy Seaman Sindy Strickland walked up and started helping Johnny Sumner erect a banner at a memorial created near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Sumner delivered the banner for schoolchildren in Prince William County, Va., where he is a police officer. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe Thai Alliance in America left the message, "We mourn all the lives that have been lost in the terrible tragedy and pray for America," at a memorial created near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA handwritten Psalm 23 was among hundreds of things left at a memorial created near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA group of people at a memorial created spontaneously near the Pentagon read the long list of names of persons unaccounted for in the terrorist attack on the building Sept. 11, 2001. In the rear is a section of Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageFamilies, loved ones, friends and strangers leave mementoes at a memorial created near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMost of the people killed in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon Sept. 11, 2001, were soldiers and Army civilian employees. An Army flag and flowers were left in their honor at a memorial that sprang up near the building shortly after the attack and has been growing steadily since. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSome visitors to a makeshift memorial created near the Pentagon lit candles to honor those killed in the terrorist attack on the building Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageTeddy bears were among the items left at a memorial created near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageJoyce and Bob Stuart of Springfield, Va., brought flowers to a memorial created near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Stuart's a retired Air Force major. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAs he held his daughter, Samantha, 4, Army Maj. Ken Murphy told her a spontaneously created memorial near the Pentagon " is a place for people to say goodbye" to those who died in the terrorist attack on the building Sept. 11, 2001. With him are his wife, Kris, and younger daughter, Danielle, 2. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA message in Spanish was left at a memorial created near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. It reads: "Viva Freedom. Guatemala Love USA. Nuestro dolor con las personas que han perdido a sus familiars. Dios salve America. ('Our pain is with those people that have lost family members. God save America') We love USA too." Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution image"Allen Boyle. Pray for his family," along with photographs was left at a memorial created near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution image"God Bless America" was written at the bottom of an American flag signed by several people and left at a memorial created near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution image"We feel your pain, God bless America" and other messages were written on the white stripes of the American flag, which was wrapped around a tree at a memorial created near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSarah Hay, 9, of Haddonfield, N.J., visited the Pentagon crash site by asking her mother, Franjee Hay (center) while the family was in Washington for her grandfather's birthday. Her brother, George, 12, wanted to see the site, too. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSarah Hay, 9, of Haddonfield, N.J., writes a message on the bulletin board at a memorial created near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSomeone wrote, "We miss you today. We missed you yesterday. We will miss you tomorrow," on a poster left at a memorial created near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution image"Never give up. Never give in. Never forget. Never again." Seen at a memorial created near the Pentagon to honor those killed in the terrorist attack there Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Rudi Williams.  
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