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The Pentagon will unveil a new memorial to Sept. 11 victims Thursday during a ceremony to mark the seventh anniversary of attacks. Kwame Holman reports on the memorial's road to completion and how family members of victims view the day.
It's an unusual site for a memorial, tucked away between a highway and the Pentagon building itself. Yet, for families and friends of the 184 people killed in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon seven years ago, the memorial opening tomorrow is the perfect place and a long-sought refuge for quiet reflection.
Tom Heidenberger's wife, Michele, was the senior flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon's western wall.
TOM HEIDENBERGER, Husband of 9/11 victim: It allows me or affords me a place to go, other than a cemetery, to look at a memorial or tombstone. It allows me, at the same time, to come here to, in many respects, in a very nice, fond way, remember the 30 years that I had with Michele, remember our two children, at the same time, reflect, so to speak, on what happened that day.
The memorial, located on two acres parallel to the deadly flight path, is understated, the bulk of it 184 cantilevered granite-covered benches, each etched with the name of one of the 59 people killed on board the plane or the other 125 who lost their lives at the Pentagon that day.
Beneath every bench, a small reflecting pool, which will be lit by night. The benches are organized along a timeline of the birth years of the victims, from youngest to oldest. Their arrangement indicates where the person died and is meant to tell the story of what happened that day.
The Pentagon 9/11 memorial was created by Julie Beckman and her husband, Keith Kaseman. Their design was chosen from among more than 1,000 considered.
JULIE BECKMAN, Memorial Co-Designer:
The names are inscribed at the end of a cantilever, and when you read the name of an individual and the Pentagon is in the background of your view, that indicates that that person was in the Pentagon at the time of their death. Conversely, like in this unit here, when you read their name at the end of the cantilever, and you see the sky in the background, that means they were on board Flight 77.
Kaseman says the various elements — benches, water pools, paperbark maple trees, and larger perimeter bench — together were meant to create a tone.
KEITH KASEMAN, Memorial Co-Designer:
Ultimately, that was the bottom line, was that this is an invitation for contemplative thought and interpretation. So, all those elements add up to this — to this quiet place.
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