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Visiting the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial

pentagon memorial

Discover the first national memorial dedicated to lives lost on 9/11

Where and what is the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial?

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is the first national memorial dedicated to the tragic events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. All 184 lives lost in the attack on the Pentagon are represented by “Memorial Unit” benches.

couple at pentagon memorial

Surrounding the benches are 85 Crape Myrtles (trees that will grow up to 30 feet tall) and the Age Wall, which grows one inch in height per year relative to the ages of the victims.

The memorial is located just outside the Pentagon, which has limited parking, meaning the best way to reach the site is to take Metrorail to Pentagon Station or Pentagon City Mall and walk from there. The memorial is free and open to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The public restrooms by the entrance are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

What will I see?

The Pentagon Memorial has an emotive power that few other memorials have, due to both the recency of the tragedy it pays homage to and its comprehensive listing of victims.

When first approaching the expansive Memorial Gateway, visitors will spot a black granite stone stating the date and time of the tragic plane crash: September 11, 2001 at 9:47 a.m. Words describe its purpose: “We claim this ground in remembrance of the events of September 11, 2001, to honor the 184 people whose lives were lost, their families, and all who sacrifice that we may live in freedom. We will never forget.”

pentagon memorial inscription

Each of the aforementioned Memorial Units (or benches) has a victim’s age and location at the time of the attack inscribed on it. The benches 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.

The units honoring victims on board 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.

Once you have explored the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, make sure to visit DC’s other monuments and memorials, which you can read about here