A Brother's Commitment
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2002 When people visit the planned Pentagon Memorial, Jim Laychak wants them to experience the same range of emotions he's felt in the year since Sept. 11 -- grief and sorrow, followed by comfort and hope.
Jim Laychak talks with reporters Aug. 28, 2002, at the National Building Museum in Washington about plans for a Pentagon memorial. Laychak, whose younger brother, David, was killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon, is a member of the Family Steering Committee for the Pentagon Memorial design competition. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"You want them to feel that sense of loss," he said, "but then you want it to be a place where they can be thoughtful and reflective. I would also like them to come away feeling a sense of hope."
Laychak lost a younger brother, David, in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Since then, he's been committed to ensuring the world does not forget his brother or the other 183 people who died there that day -- 59 passengers and crewmembers aboard the aircraft and 125 service members and civilian workers.
At 40, David Laychak was an Army civilian employee who'd moved his family from Arizona to Manassas, Va., about eight months before the attack. When American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon, David was at work in the E Ring, on the first floor, at the site of impact.
Jim Laychak became involved with plans for a memorial during frequent visits to the Pentagon Family Assistance Center set up at a nearby hotel following the attack. He later volunteered to serve on the Family Steering Committee for the design competition. About a dozen family members representing victims in the building and on the plane have met about once a month to focus on the memorial and help choose the site.
"It's just too easy to forget," Laychak said, "and I think a memorial is a permanent reminder. It's also a place where my family can go to, be where it happened and reflect on it. It's important to us to make sure we get a memorial that honors our family members and that it's something that we can all be proud of."
Shortly after the attack, Congress authorized Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to build a permanent memorial on the Pentagon grounds. Washington Headquarters Services asked the Army Corps of Engineer to provide technical services.
About 2,500 people from 50 U.S. states and 50 countries have registered for the Pentagon Memorial design competition. Officials at the Corps of Engineers' Baltimore District say they expect up to half will submit designs by the competition's Sept. 11 deadline. Judging will take place in early October, and up to five finalists will be announced Oct. 11. The winner will be announced Dec. 23.
Reed Kroloff, a competition adviser who formerly served as Architecture Magazine's editor-in-chief, said the design competition might turn out to be the largest in American history. There were about 600 entries in the Vietnam Memorial competition, he noted. About 400 designs were entered for the National World War II Memorial competition.
Pentagon Memorial competition officials encouraged the steering committee members to look at monuments in the nation's capital, according to Laychak. He said he particularly likes the Jefferson Memorial, the statue of Albert Einstein and the National Japanese American Memorial.
"I'm not looking for a specific design," Laychak noted. "I'm more interested in making sure you come away with a feeling, or come away thinking about the people that were lost. Maybe coming away with a feeling of hope based on how the tragedy brought this country together.
"The main thing for me is for people not to forget, because this is something that's always going to be a part of my life," he said. I don't want people to forget what happened and whom I lost. I think a lot of the family members probably feel the same way. They don't want it to be forgotten."