- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 25, 2004

Two Virginia Republican congressmen say they will do whatever it takes — including asking Congress for financial help — to speed up the construction of a memorial honoring those killed in the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

Rep. J. Randy Forbes said congressional funding should be an option for erecting the memorial.

“Our children and grandchildren will visit this site to commemorate those we’ve lost and to remember the price of our freedom,” said Mr. Forbes, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “For that reason, I believe we should continue to aggressively pursue avenues of funding to build a fitting memorial.”

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III said he would do anything to help the Pentagon Memorial Fund, a nonprofit group tasked with building the memorial, raise the funds necessary to put the project on track.

Mr. Davis hopes that an event next month, at which he is the host, for members of the group’s Honorary Congressional Committee on Capitol Hill will generate a new wave of private contributions.

“I am committed to doing whatever I can to make sure the Pentagon memorial is completed as soon as possible,” said Mr. Davis, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.

The congressmen’s comments come after The Washington Times reported Tuesday that the Memorial Fund postponed the memorial’s opening day — originally set for September 11 this year — until at least fall 2006, because of revised fund-raising expectations.

James Laychak, president of the fund, told The Times on Monday that $972,000 had been raised from private donations. The fund is seeking to raise $27 million, according to a letter the group sent to victims’ families.

Linda K. Boone, of Clifton, Va., whose husband, Lt. Col. Canfield D. Boone, was killed in the attack, said the letter arrived Saturday and stated the group wanted $17 million to build the park and $10 million to maintain the endowment.

Mr. Laychak declined to give The Times an updated estimate of the memorial’s overall budget requirements.

On Tuesday, he issued a written statement to The Times that said his group has raised more than $1 million in donations.

“We’ve got a beautiful design, the construction partner has been selected, and we’ve already raised over $1 million in the ‘quiet phase’ of our fund raising,” the statement reads. “The next step will be launching the Memorial Fund’s Web site and 800 number as part of our public-awareness effort, to be held in the coming weeks at an event on Capitol Hill.”

Mr. Laychak also disputed the memorial’s initial completion date.

“A completion date of September 11, 2004, keeps appearing in media reports without attribution — it certainly never came from me or the Pentagon Memorial Fund,” the statement reads. “Having it built right has always been more important to them than some arbitrary deadline. Selecting the right design, which we announced in March 2003, was the first step, and we are now well into the next phase.”

Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, said he is not surprised that the group has raised a fraction of its goal.

“The Pentagon decided to put the memorial in a parking lot and put up a wall so the public couldn’t see it,” said Mr. Moran, a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense. “I don’t think people should pay for something they can’t see. Every day, the Pentagon looks more and more like a fortress.”

Irene Getzfred, whose son was killed in the attack, said Tuesday that she thinks fund raising might be lagging because military families are more stoic than civilian families.

“Having a memorial at the Pentagon really isn’t important to me,” Mrs. Getzfred, whose son Lawrence was a Navy captain. “I’m not flush with money. I feel I’ve done my duty already.”

But U.S. Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, said a memorial should be erected to honor those who died. “We’d be well-served as a nation to memorialize the sites of the tragic events of 9/11 at the Pentagon and in New York and Pennsylvania,” he said in a prepared statement.

Others suggested that fund raising for the Pentagon memorial might be lagging because more people were killed in the World Trade Center attack.

More than 2,750 died at the World Trade Center. In the Pentagon attack, 184 were killed.

Fund-raising groups for other memorials in the District have not had trouble finding money for their projects and did not revise their estimated opening dates.

Betsy Glick, director of communications for the National World War II Memorial, said fund-raisers have collected $194 million — $20 million more than needed — for the memorial, and that all but $16 million of the funding came from private sources.

She also said the memorial will be open to public walk-throughs sometime next month. The memorial will be dedicated May 29.

In New York, a search committee is in the process of creating the World Trade Center Site Memorial Foundation, which will organize fund-raising efforts, said Joanna Rose, press secretary for the Lower Manhattan Development Corp, a city-state corporation that receives funding from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department.

Miss Rose said the estimated cost of the memorial is $300 million to $350 million. She said her group most likely will ask the HUD and private donars to help fund the project. “I don’t see any problem raising the money,” she said.

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