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On Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked airliners crashed into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia; and into a remote field in western Pennsylvania.
Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives, including 184 at the Pentagon.
Today, the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, located on the Pentagon site, serves as a moving tribute to those who lost their lives on that day and a reminder of the heroes who attempted to save them.
The outdoor memorial is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for visitors who wish to pause and reflect on the happenings of that day. To enrich the experience, self-guided audio tours are available that recount a sequential narrative of the events of that fall morning. Access the Pentagon Memorial Audio Tour by calling (202) 741-1004 at the memorial entrance, or streaming the audio tour online.
Each element of the Pentagon Memorial’s unique design is steeped in meaning. The 184 Memorial Units are a series of cantilevered benches (one representing each victim), and are located on the age line according to the year the victim was born. Each bench is positioned to distinguish victims who were in the Pentagon from those who were on board American Airlines Flight 77, and each unit has a lighted pool of flowing water underneath.
The site is an incredible tribute to the men, women and children who lost their lives that day, and it serves as a reminder to future generations to renew their faith in, and commitment to, the values that citizens of a free world share.
On Sept. 11, Arlington firefighters en route to a training session saw the plane crash but couldn’t pinpoint the precise location. It soon became clear. All of Arlington’s fire chiefs and captains were immediately called to Fire Station 9 and later, Arlington’s Fire Station 1 became the Field Operations Center.
The Fort Myer Fire Department, supporting nearby Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, was at the Pentagon when Flight 77 slammed into it. Two firefighters were outside their vehicle during the impact and were burned before helping victims climb out of the Pentagon’s first floor windows.
Firefighters’ unfurling of the American flag atop the Pentagon’s roof is an image engraved into collective memory. Today visitors still drop by for a photo of Fire Station 5 to pay tribute to heroes and see a piece of steel from the World Trade Center that was presented to Arlington by the New York City Fire Department. Arlington County firefighters offer student group tours and brief public education sessions.
You can also tour the Pentagon itself, the world’s largest low-rise office building and headquarters of the United States Department of Defense. The Pentagon hosts more than 106,000 visitors each year, and with advance planning and some background checks, you can receive a 1.49 mile walking tour of the massive building that is like a self-contained city.
Author: Kathleen Murphy