The Pentagon Memorial is at the s.w. corner of the Pentagon, accessible via I-395, the George Washington Memorial Pkwy., I-66 or US 1. “We claim this ground in remembrance of the events of September 11, 2001.” These are the first words inscribed on a marker at the entrance to the memorial that commemorates the lives lost when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m., killing 184 people. It was dedicated in 2008, exactly 7 years following 9/11.
The simple yet eloquent design is based on a timeline of ages (the youngest victim was 3 years old; the oldest, 71). Each of the 184 memorial units—narrow, cantilevered stainless steel benches inlaid with granite—is positioned on a gravel field according to the year the individual was born. Beneath each bench is a rectangular pool of water; throughout the day light is reflected onto the benches.
Each unit also is positioned to distinguish those who were inside the Pentagon from those who were on board Flight 77. Reading the benches inscribed with the names of the 59 passengers and crew, you face the direction of the plane's approach; reading the inscriptions on the benches honoring the 125 military and civilian personnel, you face the Pentagon building.
Sheltering the field of benches are 85 crape myrtle trees. Not dedicated to any one victim, they will eventually grow some 30 feet tall, providing a canopy of shade as well as seasonal summer blooms. Visitors who want to locate a specific memorial bench can look up the name and birth year on the locator stone at the Pentagon Memorial Gateway near the entrance.
A 24-minute audio tour offers a narrative of the 9/11 events that occurred at the Pentagon, Pentagon history and the concept behind the design. To get more out of your experience, download the interactive map from the website.
Photography is permitted only at the memorial site. Food and beverages (except for water) are not permitted. Although public parking is available in a lot off Hayes Street (Mon.-Fri. 5 p.m.-7 a.m., all day Sat.-Sun. and holidays), using Metro is recommended. It's about a 10-minute walk from the Pentagon Metro station exit to the site entrance; there is no shuttle service.