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Families of 9/11 Victims Tour Memorial Construction Site

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2007 – On Sept. 11, 2001, Amelia Fields arrived at the Pentagon for her second day of work as an Army budget analyst. It was also her 46th birthday. (Video)

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During his Sept. 7, 2007, visit to the Pentagon, William Fields displays his shirt bearing a photo of his wife, Amelia V. Fields who died in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack against the Pentagon. Defense Dept. photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Molly A. Burgess, U.S. Navy.

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That morning, when hijackers barreled American Airlines Flight 77 into the building’s western wall, Fields and 124 other military and civilian personnel in the building died along with 59 passengers.

Near the crash site here today, Fields’ widower, William Fields, a retired Marine master sergeant, and family members of other victims toured the Pentagon Memorial construction site. Slated for completion in September 2008, the two-acre memorial will consist of 184 benches, each dedicated to an individual victim and arranged according their ages, from 3-year-old Dana Falkenberg to 71-year-old John D. Yamnicky.

“Her bench is somewhere over there on the 46th angle,” William Fields said, motioning toward the center of the construction site where his late wife’s stainless steel bench will stand.

Every cantilevered bench engraved with a name of a person killed will rise over a small illuminated pool that indicates the victim’s location during the attack. Basin lips curving away from the Pentagon signify an airplane passenger killed, while those curving toward the building represent those who died inside.

For the retired Marine, the field of benches preserves his wife’s individual memory and symbolizes collective sorrow that the attacks sowed over other families.

“Every day you see somebody or something and a memory will flash by your mind, and I go back to her because she was a wonderful lady,” Fields said of his late wife of 26 years. “I think (the memorial) is a wonderful thing for family members, and its something to remind us that we all felt the pain of that day.”

The $22 million project is roughly halfway complete, with 35 workers laboring eight hour daily shifts onsite, and scores of others working offsite fabricating materials. After the foundation is laid, maples trees will be planted on the grounds, a landscaping amenity made possible in part by a $250,000 donation by the non-profit group American Forests today.

“Trees are unique because you can mark your progress or your time on earth by watching how the trees grow. They put human life in perspective,” said Deborah Gangloff, executive director of American Forests. “Generations down the road, those trees will still be there to symbolize and bring the power home of that event to people who didn’t live through it.”


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Pentagon Memorial Fund

Click photo for screen-resolution imageWilliam Fields speaks to media during a memorial ceremony outside the Pentagon Sept. 7, 2007, about the loss of his wife who was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack against the Pentagon in 2001. Defense Dept. photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Molly A. Burgess, U.S. Navy.   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDeborah Gangloff, executive director of American Forests, talks to media after a ceremony held at the Pentagon Memorial site, Sept. 7, 2007. American Forests donated a check for $250,000 to the Pentagon Memorial Fund. Defense Dept. photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Molly A. Burgess, U.S. Navy.  
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