PentagonMemorial01

Victims of the Terrorist Attack on The Pentagon Memorial

There are a number of local memorials and tributes to the victims of the September 11, 2001, series of coordinated terrorist attacks launched by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States.  The most well-known of these tributes is The Pentagon Memorial, located just southwest of The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia.  Other local memorials include ones at Georgetown University Memorial Park, the memorial fountain at National Memorial Park, the Dave Bernard Memorial Garden, the 9/11 Heroes Memorial Highway, the memorial flags and plaque at Westwood Country Club, the Wilton Woods Memorial Garden, the Leckie Elementary School Garden Memorial, the Montgomery County 9/11 Memorial, and one of the more unusual ones, The Lummi Nation Totem Poles.  There are also a number of groves of trees planted as living memorials to the victims of that day, including ones located in Langden Park, Penn Branch Gateway Park, and Historic Congressional Cemetery.

In recognition of today’s 14th anniversary of the attacks, I visited another of the memorials, the group burial site in Arlington National Cemetery, known as The Victims of Terrorist Attack on the Pentagon Memorial.  Located at the southern end of Section 64, near Patton Circle (MAP), this memorial specifically commemorates the victims of the attack on the Pentagon.  It honors the five individuals for whom no identifiable remains were ever found.  A portion of the remains of 25 other victims are also buried at the site.  But the memorial honors all of the victims from that day.  The names of the 125 Pentagon employees, as well as the 53 non-terrorist passengers and 6 crewmembers who were aboard American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the building are inscribed on the memorial.

The Victims of the Terrorist Attack on The Pentagon Memorial was commissioned by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and was dedicated on September 12, 2002, the day after the one-year anniversary of the attacks. It was designed by the Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, John C. Metzler, Jr., who drew inspiration from a memorial to the 253 dead of the United States Coast Guard ship USS Serpens, which is also located in Arlington National Cemetery.  The memorial is a 4.5 feet tall pentagonal marker, which is constructed from granite provided by Granite Industries of Vermont, Inc., the company which is also the sole provider of headstones for the cemetery.  On five sides of the memorial along the top are inscribed the words “Victims of Terrorist Attack on the Pentagon September 11, 2001”. Aluminum plaques, painted black, are inscribed with the names of the 184 victims of the terrorist attack.  There are five plaques, one for each side of the marker.  The names of those aboard Flight 77 are marked with a diamond in front of their name. The names of those for whom no remains could be identified are marked with a star in front of their name. A pentagonal base extends approximately 5 inches out and 5 inches down from the main body of the memorial.

The Victims of the Terrorist Attack on The Pentagon Memorial is one of the more somber memorials simply by virtue of its location within Arlington National Cemetery, considered among the most hallowed grounds in the country.  It’s location is also adjacent to the Pentagon, within sight of the scene of where the terrorist attack occurred.  Combine its location with the fact that the memorial also serves as the final resting place of many of the victims, and it makes this memorial one that should not be missed, especially on a day like today.

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