WASHINGTON (Talon News) — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in a taped message last week, asked Department of Defense employees to join him in kicking off a campaign to raise $20 million which will be used to build a memorial to those Pentagon employees killed in the attacks on America on September 11, 2001.
“Department of Defense employees are helping to raise funds to build and maintain the Pentagon Memorial dedicated to September 11th,” Rumsfeld said. “While this is not an official DoD solicitation — it is totally voluntary — I do want to say that this effort has my enthusiastic personal support.”
On September 11th, 184 military and civilian employees who worked at the Pentagon were killed after al Qaeda terrorists hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 and crashed the passenger jet into the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense.
The memorial is planned to be built on two acres of land west of the World War II-era facility along the path the doomed flight took before hitting the nearly 4 million square foot structure.
“The display will have 184 benches with the name of each victim — ranging from age 3 to age 71 — engraved on a bench,” Rumsfeld said.
He continued, “In the years ahead, millions of Americans will see this moving memorial and think back to what happened on September 11th. And they will remember our brave men and women in uniform who rose to the challenge in the months that followed. They will be reminded that our country cannot be free unless we are strong.”
The DOD Personnel Pentagon Memorial Organization, a voluntary association of civilian and military personnel, is organizing the campaign, and they are not accepting any public financing.
The group is planning to spend up to $12 million on initial construction, and the remainder will be spent on maintenance for the memorial. The fundraising effort began on July 21 and runs through August 8.
The goal is to have construction completed by next summer so the public will be able to visit the memorial in September, 2004. The opening will not be held on September 11 in order to fulfill the request of the Family Steering Committee which hopes to avoid adding to the “already emotional nature of the day.”
Groups involved in the completion of this project include: the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Washington Headquarters Services (WHS), the Pentagon Renovation Program (PENREN), Real Estate and Facilities (RE&F), the Office of Family Policy, Family Members of Pentagon Victims, and Kaseman Beckman Amsterdam Studio (KBAS), who designed the winning memorial concept. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was responsible for the Pentagon Memorial Site Selection and Design Competition.
Those wishing to contribute to the memorial fund are directed to make their checks payable to the U.S. Treasury and send them to:
Washington Headquarters Services Pentagon Memorial / Repair Fund Budget & Finance, Room 3B269 1155 Defense Pentagon Washington, DC 20301-1155.