Sunday, September 11, 2016

9/11, 2016, The Pentagon

15 years ago today, I was teaching a class on computer maintenance and repair to a group of students at my school. This was a three hour class. so "breaks" were built into the schedule. Just before one of them my colleague walked in and whispered in my ear that the World Trade Center had been hit by an airplane and that it was thought to be terrorism.

I actually thought, "Oh, that's crazy, that can't be true."

Well, the scheduled break came and I walked across the hall to a classroom that had a TV on, just in time to see the second plane hit the building.

As you might imagine, or perhaps remember, the rest of the day was chaos. Rumors abounded. We heard that the Capital was on fire, we heard that Camp David was ablaze. and on and on and on. Later, as the truth became clear we knew that a plane had gone down in Shanksville, Pa., and that another one had flown into the Pentagon.

My sister's friend was killed in the Pentagon, my wife's boss had just walked away from an office that was hit. This was personal.

I am not completely sure why, but I had not visited the memorial at the Pentagon until now. It seems to me that the 15th anniversary is a good time to so so.

So, on a day much like the  one in 2001, sunny, bright blue sky, warm, I ventured down.

I guess because it is, after all, the Pentagon, they don't make it easy. You can only drop off or pick up people near the memorial, not park. I drove around and around and found nothing but restricted parking. I finally asked some guys in uniform and they said you had to park at a local Macy's. Well, I had no idea where that was or how I might get back to the site, so I continued to just keep driving around. I finally came to a guard shack and  went over to ask. Nobody in the guard shack. I was getting pretty frustrated. Finally, a guy walked up, no uniform, and asked if he could help me. He was wearing some kind of Pentagon badges, so when he told me a could park nearby, if I was going to be an hour or less, I took his word for it.

It turned out the parking area was right near the entrance to the memorial but was not marked as visitor parking, I parked anyway.

I walked in and the site is quite beautiful and serene.

The first thing you see is this black stone marker announcing the site.

All of those lost are listed on this adjacent marker. The numbers, to the left of each name, are the year in which each was born.

At the entrance is this inscription which is on a salvaged piece of stone from the Pentagon, itself.

Inside the memorial are 185 stone "benches" one for each of the lost. they are arranged chronologically be age. the youngest (3 years old) to the oldest (71 years old) On the wall surrounding the area dates are specified so that one might, more easily, find a particular persson's bench.

The "benches" are placed along the flight path of the plane and each one is engraved with a name.

 If you look carefully, you will see that there is a name on the end of this bench, but look into the water below and you will see that there are others there. this is all one family that was lost together.

If you are facing the Pentagon as you read the name, that means that the person named was in the Pentagon. If you are facing away from the Pentagon, it means that the person named was on the plane.

The site is planted with 85 white Crape Myrtle trees, very beautiful, but I have been unable to determine if that number is significant in any way.

There is a wall the encloses the space, nearly two acres, that  reminds us of the ages of those lost. It begins at 3 inches for the youngest child and rises to 71 inches for the eldest victim.

I am making plans to travel to Shanksville, Pa, and New York City to honor those memorials as well. More on them in the future.

Next time, on the 16th, we will be back on track with Vietnam memorials. Join me in Kirkwood, Missouri, as usual, at 9:00am.

To see other 9/11 memorials or Vietnam memorials from any state, just click the names, or dates,  on the left side of this page.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I haven't been there yet, but some day I would like to go see Bill Ruth's bench.