- The Washington Times - Friday, May 25, 2007

ARLINGTON — Rosemary Dillard walked under a blazing sun through a construction site outside the Pentagon yesterday. She felt a cool breeze when she got to the place where her husband’s memorial bench will be, and it made her smile: Eddie was getting a good spot.

“I want it to be a cool spot because I want everybody to come and share my love for Eddie by coming and sitting on this bench and rubbing his name that’s going to be engraved on the end of it,” Mrs. Dillard said.

The Alexandria resident was part of a small group of relatives of September 11 victims who toured the future Pentagon Memorial.

Scheduled for completion by September 2008, the memorial park is being built just outside the Pentagon wall where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed on September 11, killing all 59 persons on the plane and 125 inside the Pentagon.

The park will have 184 benches, each inscribed with a victim’s name and paired with a small reflecting pool. They are to be laid out in order of the victims’ ages, with 3-year-old Dana Falkenberg at one end and 71-year-old John D. Yamnicky at the other.

Planning for the memorial began two months after the attacks, and a ceremonial groundbreaking was held last June.

The Memorial Day weekend tour was the first opportunity for many of the families involved in the Pentagon Memorial Fund to see the site since construction began.

Abraham Scott, of Springfield, said seeing the contours of the park take shape brought tears to his eyes. His wife, Janice Marie, was a civilian employee at the Pentagon. She was 46 when she died on September 11, three months short of their 25th wedding anniversary.

“Now I can actually see and touch something and know that it’s gonna happen,” Mr. Scott said.

For Mrs. Dillard, the fund’s vice president, yesterday’s event was a needed boost during a difficult time of year. Her husband, who was a passenger on Flight 77, would have turned 60 on May 18, and Mrs. Dillard said they would have had a big party. In June comes their wedding anniversary and Mrs. Dillard’s own birthday.

Mrs. Dillard was a flight-attendant manager at American Airlines, and four persons who worked under her died in the Pentagon crash. She left that job in 2003 and has thrown herself into the memorial work. She said she worries about what she’ll do when the memorial is finished.

“We’ll have this to come to, but those of us who don’t have children, it doesn’t give us a thing to focus on,” Mrs. Dillard said. “I had a reason to get up; I had a reason to do things; I had a reason to be with people. … What am I going to do next? I don’t know.”

For now, the fund still has plenty of work. Nearly $8 million of the estimated $21.5 million cost of building the park still needs to be raised. Fund leaders also want to raise another $10 million to create a permanent endowment to maintain the memorial.

James J. Laychak, the fund’s president, said his brother, David W. Laychak, a civilian who worked at the Pentagon, would probably tell him to get on with his life instead of working on the memorial.

“These things are for the living,” Mr. Laychak said. “This is important for us; it’s important for the family members; and it’s important for the country.”

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