9/11 Anniversary: Inside the Pentagon Memorial

Published: Sep. 8, 2016 at 11:53 AM EDT
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If you’re old enough to remember, you’ll never forget what happened on September 11th, 2001.

Right outside our nation’s capital, 184 people lost their lives when terrorists slammed an American Airlines flight into the Pentagon.

Here, at the Pentagon Memorial, those lives are not forgotten.

“It’s a place you can go, get inside, and get lost in your own thoughts," said Jim Laychak, who lost his brother Dave in the building.

“His bench and this age line is pretty much right where the flight path of the plane came," explained Laychak.

The site includes 184 benches – each engraved with a victim’s name. But take a closer look, and there’s a lot more symbolism. Benches facing the building represent the victims on the airplane. The ones pointed away are for those who died in the Pentagon.

They’re also organized in order of birth year. The oldest victim – a 71-year-old retired Navy captain. The youngest – a three year old girl.

About 500,000 people visit the memorial every year – including school kids, who weren’t even born at the time.

“Five children died in the attack. Two little girls who were traveling with their mother and father to Australia. And three kids from DC elementary schools who were traveling with their teachers with National Geographic. Those kids were fifth and sixth graders," said Laychak. "So it’s interesting to see kids who are fifth and sixth graders gravitate toward those benches.”

But Laychak says there are more stories to tell, so he’s helping to develop a plan for a new Visitor education center, which he hopes will attract even more visitors.

“They honor my brother, they honor the families, they honor their memory by taking time to come here, spend some time here, and remember what happened on that day," he said.

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