After dark on September 11th, I went over to the Pentagon with a friend to see the brand new Pentagon 9/11 Memorial Park they have completed over there. It is a must-see. Even now I'm tearing up at the memory. Pentagon Stop, Blue or Yellow Line.
Laid out on a small quiet field bound in by walls of various heights, 184 low rising long benches arise from the ground. Each platform emerges over a small, lighted body of water and has the name of a victim of the 9/11 attack at the Pentagon inscribed upon it. The 24-hour memorial abounds with symbolism.
The park is nestled in a plot of ground between a busy highway and the side of the Pentagon which was struck when the attacking commandeered commercial jet roared over it at more than 500 MPH, mere feet off the ground. The plane was laden with highly flammable jet fuel which would create a huge fireball when it crashed, the better to mindlessly kill and destroy in satisfaction of the mad cravings of the attack's planners and their Godless supporters.
The benches, which are meant to be sat upon in silent rest or quiet reflection, face either the sky to the west or the Pentagon to the east to indicate the last location of each victim just before the terrible moment. They are arranged along linear time lines corresponding to years carved upon the low, rising wall to the east, representing birth years. Standing alone to the south, apart from the others in haunting isolation, is the bench memorializing three-year old Dana Falkenberg, a plane occupant whose short life was snuffed out here. Further to the north are lonely benches for her sister and some other youths whose potential will never be realized. Then there starts a thick cluster of benches as the visitor gets into the realm of persons in the prime of their lives. Twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, forty-somethings, spending their last moments unsuspecting at the Pentagon or in abject terror aboard the airliner. The benches thin out again as they march northward towards older victims until there stands, alone again, one representing seventy-one year John D. Yamnicky, Sr.
People wandered around the park in the dark, attempting to read the names inscribed on the benches in the low-level light emanating from the lighted pools of water under each bench. Roses adorned many of the benches. Undoubtedly that first night, kinsfolk of the departed were there in that field, quietly grief-stricken again like so many times before.
A somber but lovely little place to go anytime. I'm sure it will look completely different when I next return, soon, in the daylight.