It might be hard to believe, but it has been a decade and a half since 2,996 innocents lost their lives in one of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil. That fateful morning, two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, another crashed into the Pentagon, and a fourth plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The somber day is remembered with various memorials — the largest and most well known being located at the site of the most significant attack: the rebuilt World Trade Center in New York City. However, there are other lesser known memorials, such as the one in the Pentagon, where 184 victims lost their lives and another in the field in Stonycreek Township, near Shanksville.

The memorial opened on September 11, 2008, seven years after the attack. Image Credit:

The Pentagon Memorial: elegant, abstract, restrained, understated

The memorial for the attack against the Pentagon, where a single plane crashed against it, killing almost two hundred persons, is less known and smaller than the main memorial at New York City — but remains a poignant reminder of what happened that day.

The memorial is composed of a field of colorful, multicolored gravel with a grove of trees, with benches made of stainless steel and polished granite — each bench corresponds to a victim, with their names inscribed on the edge of the stainless steel supports.

The benches are placed in rows, angled so that they follow the trajectory of the plane, the American Airlines Flight 77, and arranged by year, following the years displayed in a nearby “age wall”.

The entrance is sparse, as it has the benches for the few children who lost their lives that fateful day. The densest rows are those around the 1940s.

Under the benches, almost like a shadow, lie small rectangular pools of water, and lights inside these pools and under their respective benches make sure the place remains illuminated at night.As it is to be expected, since the benches bear more than a passing resemblance to gravestones, nobody dares to sit on them.

As it is to be expected, since the benches bear more than a passing resemblance to gravestones, nobody dares to sit on them.

This elegant memorial opened eight years ago. And as time passes and the need for context grows plans have been unveiled to expand on the memorial.

A visitor center is to be built sometime in the future, featuring exhibits which describe the events that transpired that fateful day, along with celebrating the lives of the victims and explaining how the world works towards preventing another September 11, according to the Memorial’s official website.

The first inscribed memorial unit unveiled at the dedication ceremony on September 11, 2008. Image Credit: DoD/Cherie Cullen

Remembering those who departed

Laurie Laychak spends the fifteenth anniversary of the tragedy remembering her beloved husband, Dave Laychak. He was only forty years old when he lost his life.

The widow marks the occasion in a ceremony in North Virginia, at the Prince William County Liberty Memorial, which features four steel beams recovered from the World Trade Center and a piece of limestone from the Pentagon, where her husband — a civilian — worked, and where he lost his life that Tuesday morning.

She notes how bittersweet even the most special of occasions can be, “you are happy for your children and the things they are doing, but then you are sad that Dave is not there to share that and to see it. And I would so badly want to say, ‘Oh Dave, look at them!’”

Her children, Zack and Jenny, were seven and nine years old when they lost their father. Now they’re twenty-two and twenty-four, and both are college graduates. And although it’s been 15 years, Laychak still feels the loss of her husband.

“No matter how much time goes by, you are just sent right back to when everything first happened” she states.

Sources: City Paper