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Pentagon Memorial Donations Rise; $3 Million Raised Thus Far

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2004 – As the third anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack approaches, the Pentagon Memorial Fund is still millions short of the $17.5 million needed to build a memorial honoring those killed that fateful day.

However, Jim Laychak, president of the memorial fund -- a nonprofit agency established by the families of the 184 people killed in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon -- said donations have picked up recently thanks to contributions from groups ranging from large corporations to children selling Gatorade in the streets.

Laychak, whose brother was killed in the attack, said $3 million has been raised thus far, two-thirds of which poured in during the last six months.

"The momentum is building," he said. "We just started fundraising in earnest in April. So I think we are well on our way."

The memorial has set up a Web site where donors can go to give money. And throughout the Pentagon, campaign managers are helping to coordinate fundraising efforts.

Laychak said there is a simple plan to raise the $17.5 million if people would take action.

The Web site provides an option where people can donate $9 per month for 11 months. If 50,000 people would make that commitment and get two of their friends to do the same, "we'd have rest of the (money) needed to make up the difference," Laychak said. "It's all about people taking action, going out and doing it," he said.

Meanwhile, he said, recently the fund received several large donations from U.S. corporations. Anheuser Busch donated $1 million; Defense contractor Raytheon gave $350,000; the Annenberg Foundation tipped in $250,000; the Harris Corp, $150,000; and the Star Foundation added $100,000.

In addition, he said, he's received hundreds of small donations that bear just as significant meaning. "There was a little girl who lost her father; she was selling Gatorade on the Mount Vernon bike trail," he said. "She raised $300."

Then there were the women who sponsored two theatrical plays at the Little Theater in Alexandria, Va. He said the performances raised over $6,000. The Pentagon Chefs, a group of Navy cooks, sponsored a golf tournament at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., that raised close to $15,000, he added.

"That's what we need," Laychak said. "We need people to do something, make a donation, tell people about it, or host their own fundraising event."

Laychak has been at the forefront of the memorial project ever since the loss of his brother David, 41, a budget analyst at the Pentagon. He said he still takes the loss one day at a time.

"It's not something that you ever get over," he explained. "This memorial is going to be a place of comfort for people left behind, and it's going to be a gift for future generations. It's going to complete the Pentagon.

"We rebuilt the Pentagon within a year, and we showed the world that we wouldn't let terrorism defeat us," Laychak added. "And now, with this memorial right next to where the point of impact was, (we are) going to show the world how we take care of our own and how we comfort each other in time of need."

The memorial will feature a tree-lined park with 184 lighted benches, each dedicated to an individual killed in the attack.

Earlier this year, a fundraising consultant was hired to help memorial organizers raise money to complete construction on the project.

The Pentagon Memorial was added to the list of authorized Combined Federal Campaign recipients. Donations to the memorial fund are tax deductible, and can be sent to:

Pentagon Memorial Fund, Inc. P.O. Box 6285 Arlington, VA 22206.

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