Posts Tagged ‘September 11’


David’s Tent

Over the years as I have been riding a bike during my lunch breaks at work, I have periodically seen a large white tent erected in different parts of the downtown area of the city.  On it’s side there has been a sign which reads, ““.  I first saw it about four years ago in President’s Park on The Ellipse near The White House.  Since that time I have intermittently seen it near John Marshal Place Park just off Constitution Avenue, as well as various other sites.  It is currently located on the National Mall just east of the pond in Constitution Gardens and about 100 yards due north of the National World War II Memorial (MAP), and within view of the White House.  On this ride I stopped in to learn more about it.

Jason Hershey founded David’s Tent DC in 2012 as a non-denominational Christian non-profit organization dedicated to performing public worship services.  That first year a service was to be held in the park at McPherson Square, but at the suggestion of the National Park Service it was moved to The Ellipse instead.  And although the Park Service had never given a permit for more than 14 days in that area, they granted David’s Tent a 45-day permit.  So it was that David’s Tent began with 40 days of continuous worship and praise.

When the organization decided to hold another event the following year, it again was located on The Ellipse.  However, that year the Federal government shut down due to the fact that no budget had been passed.  And in addition to closing most Federal departments and agencies, the first things to close were the National Parks, including the National Mall and The Ellipse.  I vividly remember during that time the news stories of attempts to keep World War II veterans from being allowed to visit the closed memorial that had been made to honor them.  Amazingly though, David’s Tent was allowed to continue uninterrupted.  That year they did it again for 42 days, which equates to being 1,000 hours long.

David’s Tent has continued ever year, and gotten bigger and longer in each consecutive year.  In 2014, the service was extended to 50 days, during which they prayed for each state for one day.

This time is the organization’s most ambitious event to date.  The tent was pitched in its current location last September 11th, and David’s Tent is committed to performing nonstop worship music on the National Mall for 14 months straight, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, until Election Day this November.  This weekend, they will reach the one year mark on their way to the goal of a 422-day worship service.  Hershey, the founder of David’s Tent, says there’s no political agenda behind the vigil despite its significant start and end dates, and its notable location in the heart of our nation’s capital.

David’s Tent is inspired by the biblical story of King David, who pitched a tent near his palace and hired more than 4,000 musicians and 288 singers to worship there continually throughout his 33-year reign. David made worship central for his nation, and it is said to have brought blessing on the whole nation. David’s Tent DC is attempting to do the same here in America.  So if you’re in downtown D.C. during the next few months, I encourage you to stop in, learn more, and participate.

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[Click on the photos above to view the full size versions]

The Pentagon 9/11 Memorial

The Pentagon 9/11 Memorial

Today is the 13th anniversary of the Tuesday, September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a series of four coordinated attacks launched by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States, using four passenger airlines to attack targets in New York City and the D.C. metropolitan area. It is estimated that the attacks killed almost 3,000 people, and caused at least $10 billion in property and infrastructure damage.

In commemoration of the anniversary of the attacks, I rode to The Pentagon Memorial, which is located at 1 North Rotary Road (MAP) on the grounds of The Pentagon, just southwest of the main building in Arlington, Virginia. The Pentagon Memorial was opened to the public six years ago today, on September 11, 2008.

The Pentagon Memorial is a permanent outdoor memorial to the victims who died in the Pentagon, or were passengers or crew members aboard American Airlines Flight 77, which was crashed by the terrorists into the building as part of the attacks. The memorial’s design was developed by Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman. Their vision for the Memorial was selected from more than 1,100 submissions by a panel of architects, family members, and public figures in the D.C. area, including two former Secretaries of Defense.

To honor the 184 victims, the main focus of the memorial consists of a corresponding number of cantilevered benches, which are illuminated, and made of stainless steel and inlaid with smooth granite. Each bench includes a shallow lighted pool of flowing water underneath it, and is engraved with the name of an individual victim. If more than one member of a family died during the attack, family names are listed in the reflecting pool under the bench in order to forever bind the family together. This is in addition to the separate benches that have been created for each individual family member. Symbolically, the benches representing the victims that were inside the Pentagon are arranged so those reading the names are facing the Pentagon’s south facade, where the plane struck. The benches dedicated to victims aboard the plane are arranged so that those reading the engraved name are facing skyward along the path the plane traveled.

The memorial also includes an “Age Wall” which encircles the area where the benches are located. The wall increases one inch per year in height above the perimeter bench relative to the age lines. As visitors move through the Memorial, the wall gets higher, growing from an initial height of three inches, representing the youngest victim, three year-old Dana Falkenberg.  Dana had just celebrated her third birthday, and was on Flight 77 along with her 9-year old sister Zoe, and their parents, Charles and Leslie. The wall progresses to a height of 71 inches, the age of John D. Yamnicky, Sr., the oldest of the 184 victims.  He was a retired Navy captain who was also on the plane.  He was enroute to a business meeting.  Inclusion of the age lines in the architectural design is intended to unify the victims without regard to their status as man or woman, military or civilian, rich or poor.

Other aspects of the Pentagon Memorial include flags, plaques, and walking paths. There are also 85 crape myrtle trees which are clustered around the memorial benches, but are not dedicated to any one victim. These trees will grow to a height of up to 30 feet, and will provide a canopy of shade over the Memorial for years to come.

Memorial services were also held at the Pentagon on this day, as they are on each anniversary of the attacks. A service for employees only is held in an auditorium inside the Pentagon. A smaller service is also held at the memorial site for family and friends of victims, as well as the public.

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The Lummi Nation Totem Poles

An American Indian named Jewell Praying Wolf James took it upon himself to carve a series of totem poles after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.  They were created as a healing gift on behalf of all Native American tribes.  The totems were subsequently dedicated by the Lummi tribe of Washington state as a tribute to those who died in the attacks, and installed in New York and Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, the scenes of the crash sites on that fateful day.

The totem at the Pentagon was dedicated during the opening week of the National Museum of the American Indian in September 2004.  The Piscataway tribe also participated in the totem’s dedication, as they originally owned the land where the totem now stands.  It was later moved to the Historic Congressional Cemetery, which is located on Capitol Hill in southeast D.C. at 1801 E Street (MAP).

Carved from a single tree from Alaska, the structure lies near a grove of trees in the cemetery that were planted in memory of the victims in the 9/11 attacks.  Standing 14 feet tall and six feet around, the two vertical poles are named Liberty and Freedom.  The Liberty pole depicts a female bear with a “grandmother moon” in her abdomen. The Freedom pole depicts a male bear with “grandfather sun.”  The 36-foot Sovereignty crossbar joining the two poles has eagles carved on each end, with two sets of seven feathers representing American Airlines Flight 77, the flight that crashed into the Pentagon. The female eagle symbolizes peace, and the male symbolizes war.

The totem at Congressional Cemetery is eventually going to be moved to the September 11 Memorial Grove that is planned for Kingman Island in the Anacostia River in D.C.  But for now, the pole remains at the cemetery, where it may remain for years to come.

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[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]