Washington, D.C. has many memorials, to commemorate both the large and the small moments in history. One of the most touching of these is the Pentagon Memorial, a tribute to the men and women who died when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the structure on September 11, 2001.
What makes this memorial particularly special is how moving it is, due both to its design and what it represents. It is comprised of 184 stone benches, arranged in order of the birth years of the passengers and Pentagon staff who were killed. The first bench that visitors come upon is that of Dana Falkenberg, born in 1998 and thus just three years old when she died. Three of the benches are for children, a fact which becomes starker when seeing the physical divide between the three benches and that of the next oldest passenger, who was born in 1979.
Brochures at the memorial give more information about the subtle features that the architects included in the design. For example, the words “SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 9:37 AM” at the entrance are etched into a piece of limestone recovered from the wreckage. And, the benches are positioned so that for those who died at the Pentagon, both the victim’s name and the building are in full view, whereas for those who were passengers on the plane, the name and direction of the plane’s approach are both in view.
The design of the Pentagon Memorial was conceived by Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman, and selected from 1,100 submissions. The memorial was dedicated on September 11, 2008.
Located on the on the southwest side of the Pentagon’s sprawling complex, the memorial is a 5-10 minute walk from the Pentagon Metro stop. It can also be accessed by car, though see here for details on driving.
To get there: Pentagon Metro or many buses from Arlington. Open 24 hours. Free.