- The Washington Times - Friday, September 10, 2004

Three years after a hijacked plane slammed into the Pentagon, efforts to raise money for a permanent memorial to the 184 victims are gaining momentum.

Since the official start of the Pentagon Memorial Fund campaign in April, nearly $3 million has been raised for the two-acre contemplation park.

Construction costs are projected at $17.5 million, but supporters are trying to raise $30 million to provide for its perpetual care.

“We’re going after corporate contributions and we also have a personal appeal because the victims were people who lived right here in the Washington area,” said James J. Laychak, president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund.

The nonprofit group was founded with the support of the victims’ families. It aims to complete construction in the fall of 2006.

A group of 15 business executives has agreed to help raise $15 million for the project. A Web site established to promote it (www.pentagonmemorial.net) accepts donations of $5 or more.

The designated site of the memorial is just 165 feet from the Pentagon, which in the post-September 11 era is one of the most secure buildings in the Washington area. It likely will be most easily accessed by Metro, though limited space may be provided for tour buses.

“This will be a public site where people can come, but security will be what you would expect at national military headquarters,” said Daniel Guido, spokesman for the Pentagon Renovation and Construction Project, which is overseeing development of the site.

The architectural firm of Kaseman Beckman Amsterdam Studio of New York was selected in March 2003 to design the memorial park.

The memorial is supposed to provide future generations with subtle clues of what occurred, while providing an elegant environment honoring the victims. Five hijackers also were killed.

“There are individual memorials dedicated to each of the victims, but collectively they form a greater memorial for the community and the nation,” said Julie Beckman, co-designer of the project.

Each of the 184 low-slung cast-metal benches will be perched above small reflecting pools and inscribed with the name of a victim. The display will be arranged to provide a timeline of their ages — from 3 to 71.

The orientation of the bench will determine whether it represents someone who was aboard the plane or inside the Pentagon at the time of impact.

On Thursday, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, introduced legislation authorizing the Treasury Department to mint a series of commemorative coins supporting construction of the memorial.

“It is important that we commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of those who lost their lives or were injured at the Pentagon that day and of those who responded to the attacks,” said Mr. Davis.

Reps. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican, and James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, have signed on as original co-sponsors of the bill.

The legislation suggests production of $50 gold coins, $1 silver coins, and 50-cent silver-clad coins. The memorial fund would receive a share of surcharges from sale of the coins.

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