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Fundraising for Pentagon Memorial Approaches Halfway Milestone

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2006 – Fundraising for a memorial to the 184 people killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack on the Pentagon is nearing the halfway point in raising the almost $21 million needed to begin construction.

More than $10.2 million has been raised for the project, Jim Laychak, president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, told American Forces Press Service. Construction is set to begin later this year, he said.

"It's amazing to see the progress we've made in the last 12 months," said Laychak, whose brother, David, was an Army civilian employee killed in the attack. "We've gone from paper to prototype, and now to the early stages of construction activities."

During the next two years, fundraisers will focus on corporations, foundations and other large donors, with hopes of collecting donations of $150,000 or more, Laychak said. Booz Allen Hamilton, which lost three people in the attack, recently donated $450,000 to the project, and BearingPoint, Inc., recently donated $150,000, he said.

While focusing on larger donations, Laychak said smaller, private gifts are important as well He noted the success of an option offered on the Pentagon Memorial Fund Web site that enables people to donate $9 a month for 11 months.

"We want all Americans to feel that they are a part of this effort," he said. "This will be a historic memorial."

In addition to the rest of the construction costs, fundraisers plan to raise an additional $10 million endowment to provide care and maintenance of the site, Laychak said.

The Pentagon Memorial Park will be built on a two-acre site at the Pentagon, just outside the spot where terrorists crashed the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 into the building. The design includes 184 illuminated benches representing each of the victims killed, with lighted reflecting pools beneath each bench. Concept designer Julie Beckman called these "the most personal component and heart" of the project.

While fundraising continues, designers are fine-tuning their plans. "The designs for details of the memorial park, such as the lighting, landscaping and water systems, are nearing completion," Laychak said. "And we are on the verge of breaking ground to prepare the site for the construction of the memorial."

The goal is to have the project completed by fall 2008, he said.

When completed, the memorial will offer a lasting tribute to those killed in the Sept. 11 Pentagon attack, Laychak said. He noted that it will serve as a place to remember those who died and to bring comfort and a sense of reflection for those left behind.

Abraham Scott, whose wife, Janice, was killed when Flight 77 crashed into her Pentagon office, said he looks forward to the groundbreaking and construction of the memorial to honor her and the others whose lives were cut short in the terror attack. "Those who died were not just numbers," he said. "They were people with families."

For more information about or to donate to the Pentagon Memorial Fund, visit the organization's Web site.

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