for Pentagon, Shanksville Permanent Memorials Progress as Nation Commemorates
While the Pentagon's rebuilding effort is largely complete, plans for a permanent memorial are progressing more slowly as designers, engineers and family members work carefully on plans to properly memorialize the lives lost in the day's devastating events.
The winning memorial designs were chosen from a competition announced soon after the attacks, and design submissions were accepted until last Sept. 11.
Six finalists were selected from more than 1,100 entries. In March 2003, a jury composed of design and engineering experts and victims' family members picked the winning design, the vision of New York architects Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman.
"When we learned of the Pentagon Memorial Competition … we felt a natural obligation to contribute whatever we could to the discussion at hand. For several weeks, we consistently talked about … a space that would respectfully engage one's intellect on infinitely interpretive levels – as one family member poignantly stated, the Memorial should 'make people think,' but 'not tell them what to think,' " the designers said in a statement.
The design, called "Light Benches," consists of 184 benches, one dedicated to each victim of the attack on the Pentagon. The benches will be positioned according to the victims' ages -- from 3 to 71.
Architecture critics such as The Washington Post's Benjamin Forgey believe the memorial's benches are what makes the design proposal most striking.
"Probably the most unusual aspect of the design is the shape of the benches, which the designers refer to as 'memorial units,' " Forgey wrote in March 2003.
"Rather than the conventional long seat with supports at two ends, these resemble diving boards, with a rigid cantilevered seat extending about six feet from a heavy base. Underneath the cantilevered seat of each bench will be a narrow pool of water," Forgey wrote.
Fifty-nine benches will face one direction and 125 will face the other, to distinguish between victims aboard Flight 77 and those who were inside the Pentagon. The memorial will be built on nearly two acres of land marking the passenger jet's final path before it hit the building.
The project is estimated to cost some $12 million, to be funded by gifts and donations. Family members have established the Pentagon Memorial Fund, which aims to raise a total of $20 million to provide for the site's future maintenance.
Family members have taken the lead role in the fundraising effort without the aid of professional fundraisers.
"It is our responsibility," Elaine Donovan told The Washington Post in July.
"It is that simple. We need to make sure that it is built and built right. And we need to make sure it is built as it was designed. Do I know anything about fundraising? No. But we are all dedicated, and we are all intelligent, and we are all focused and we will get the job done," said Donovan, whose husband, Bill, a Navy commander, was killed in the attack.
Planners aim to complete the Pentagon memorial by fall 2005.
Meanwhile, family members and officials associated with the Shanksville, Pa., crash site of United Flight 93 are also looking toward plans for a permanent memorial to remember the 40 killed when the hijacked passenger jet crashed in a field.
A planning committee, known as the Flight 93 Task Force, composed of local residents, officials and family members are working on details for a permanent memorial plan at the site along with a 15-member federal advisory commission.
Federal legislation was enacted last year to help lay out the facts that will guide the memorial planning and also provided funding for round-the-clock protection of the site, which is guarded by county sheriff deputies.
"We wanted to make sure that the grassroots -- the community, the families -- had some real input into it," a spokesman for Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) told Pennsylvania newspaper the Tribune-Democrat.
"There was a lot of concern...that nothing garish should be done there, and that the sanctity of the site should be preserved."
Task force leaders would like to choose a memorial design by the end of 2004. Like the Pentagon memorial, Shanksville planners intend to hold a contest for design submissions.
Interior Secretary Gale Norton will visit the Pennsylvania crash site to mark the second anniversary of the attacks and to formally begin the process of planning a permanent memorial to the victims in an afternoon ceremony.
An invitation-only tree-planting ceremony to honor rescue workers who served on Sept. 11 was among the observances of the second anniversary.
A temporary memorial near the crash site is open to the public.
-- By Maureen Hoch, Online NewsHour