The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is the first national memorial dedicated to the tragic events that occurred on September 11, 2001. All 184 lives lost in the attack on the Pentagon are represented by “Memorial Units.” Each unit has a victim’s age and location at the time of the attack inscribed on it. The units are arranged along an age line, according to the year each victim was born. They are positioned to differentiate those who were on board American Airlines Flight 77 and those who were in the Pentagon, and each contains a pool of water that reflects light in the evenings. Surrounding the units are 85 Crape Myrtles (trees that will grow up to 30 feet) and the Age Wall, which grows one inch in height per year relative to the ages of the victims. According to the National Park Service, more than 225,000 people visit the memorial each year.
The Pentagon’s Washington Headquarters Service oversaw construction of the memorial, which was commissioned in August of 2003, less than two years after the attacks of 9/11. The design of the memorial was developed by Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman and was selected from over 1,100 submissions. Construction began on June 15, 2006, and the memorial was dedicated and opened to the public on September 11, 2008. More than 20,000 people attended the dedication ceremony.
The Pentagon Memorial is open and free to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Restrooms on the grounds are open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. A 24-minute audio tour can be heard by dialing 202-741-1004 upon entering the memorial. The audio will lead you to various points of interest. You can also listen to the tour prior to or following your visit. Photography is prohibited everywhere on the Pentagon Reservation except for inside the memorial itself.
The Pentagon Memorial can be reached by car via the I-66 East & West routes or by Route 50 East & West. From the north, the 14th Street Bridge or Memorial Bridge can be used, and from the south, I-95 and I-395 are the best options. There is no public parking at the Pentagon, but there is parking available at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. Keep in mind that parking can be scarce throughout the Metropolitan area. No shuttle service is available to or from the Pentagon, but there is a pedestrian tunnel that will guide you from the mall to the Pentagon in less than five minutes. When using Metro, take either the Yellow or Blue line to the Pentagon stop. Signs will direct you to the memorial.
The Pentagon Memorial is in close proximity to several other major sites: Arlington National Cemetery, The Marine Corps Memorial, The Air Force Memorial and Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. The National Mall is also a short Metro ride away, as well as the National Museum of American History and the National Gallery of Art.
- Each memorial unit representing the victims of the 9/11 attack are specifically arranged to distinguish those who lost their lives onboard Flight 77 and those who were inside the Pentagon. The units honoring victims onboard Flight 77 face the direction of the plane’s approach to the Pentagon, while those reading the names of Pentagon victims face the plane’s point of impact on the Pentagon’s south façade.
- $32 million was raised in order to construct the memorial.
- $250,000 in donations came from the American Forests, and $1 million came from the government of Taiwan.
- An impromptu memorial was arranged on a hill at the Navy Annex soon after the 9/11 attacks.
- The Age Wall rises from 3 inches high to 71 inches high, representing the ages of the youngest and oldest victims of the attack.