Day Eight – Pentagon 9/11 Memorial
Metro: Two stops on the Blue Line and we were at the Pentagon
Before we left this morning we watched a 24 minute Vimeo on Charles’s’ tablet that highlighted the design of the memorial. (https://vimeo.com/23906742)
Landscape Architects design the space between the buildings. This is one of those spaces. I remeber reading about the design and some of the commentary (of course everyone is a critic when they didn’t design it). That’s one of the reasons I wanted to save the Pentagon Memorial until last, to get to experience the other site designs and see how this one measures up for me.
Plus … I remember that day. I read and studied about the other memorials. But I walked through September 11, 2001. Clearly in my own way and not like these did, but I’m sure like you, I know where I was when I heard/saw the news that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in NYC, and then the other tower and then the Pentagon. I expected sthong feelings for that reason.
Every detail of this memorial is intentional. There are 184 memorials lined up with the angel the plane hit the building. Benches made from stainless steal and smooth granite cantilever from the ground, have a lighted pool of flowing water and a name on the end. The direction of the bench indicates their location at the impact, from flight 77 or inside the Pentagon. They capture that moment in time, September 11, 2001, 9:37 a.m. They created an age line, from the youngest victim, three-year-old Dana Falkenburg, who was on board American Flight 77 with her sister and parents, to the oldest, John Yamnicky, 71, a retired Navy veteran, also aboard Flight 77 that morning. As you position at the end of the monument to read the name, the direction you face indicates the victim’s location. If you’re looking toward the sky, that victim was on the plane; if towards the Pentagon – in the building. 125 honor the victims of the Pentagon and 59 lives lost on Flight 77. Within there are 85 Crape Myrtle trees clustered but not dedicated to any one victim. These trees will get 30 feet tall and make wonderful shade over the Memorial.
I could go on and on about the design but in reality it’s about the impression, the feel that the memorial brings. Last night as we were taking our night pictures, I notices the elderly gentleman leaning up against the wall at the WWII Memorial contemplating, in deep thought, presumably about the impact imposed by this war.
That’s how I found myself this morning.
I thought back to where I was that morning. I remember how I felt that day and how much our world has changed because of that day. (Every building we went into we were forced to go through security checks like at the airport.) It made me angry. It made me try to imagine what the family members must have felt like knowing their loved ones were stolen by such cruel hatred. I thought about how horrified the people on the flight must have been the last nearly fifty minutes of their life. Can you imagine being the parents of those children? What about the three teachers of the three students headed to California to compete in a Nation Geographic competition? And even the wife or husband, son or daughter, certainly praying that the hijackers would get what they wanted and they would be released. Up until this day, hijackers had demands. These were terrorist not hijackers. They were terrorized. We were terrorized.
We sat for awhile and I asked Charles what he thought? Would you have “gotten” it if we had not watched the video? Because of my indoctrination of design, was I looking at the design more than the whole memorial? As we sat an older lady, her daughter and 10 year old granddaughter walked by. The grandmother said,”It’s so powerful.” We started a conversation and they explained the significance to us as if we had no idea. They “got it“! They saw the design intent without explaination.
The Pentagon Memorial was the first 911 memorial to be opened but the last to have a Visitor Center. (Scheduled to open in 2020)
So all in all, I give it a 10 on the Must-See monuments of Washington DC. Like all the rest, you have to experience it to get the full effect.
From here we jumped on the Yellow Line and headed into the city. I had read a food review about the best BBQ restaurant in DC so we headed out. Turns out, it was in a very historic neighborhood. Georgia Ave./Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail, once the the cultural heart of DC’s African American community. This area was the site of riots in 1968 following the news of Dr. King’s assassination. In 1991 they added the Metro stop and the community has been improving since. The architecture was beautiful!
We found our way to DCity Smokehouse. Charles and I shared a BBQ Sampler Plater of brisket and rib tips. Definitely comparable to Rendezvous in Memphis. We bellied up to the bar and made pigs of ourselves.
A few pics of the Rosalyn Metro, the one we used most.
Just about the time the rain sets back in we were back to our room to begin repacking for our departure tomorrow. (We’re contemplating pulling out the umbrellas again and heading back to the Iwo Jima memorial (1/2 mile away) to click a night shot.)
We pull out tomorrow headed back to Home Sweet Home Alabama. The plan is to go down and jumping on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a few hours to enjoy some of the majestic landscape on our way home.
Today I am thankful for: a nation that pulled together following the terrorist attack suffered now sixteen years ago. I like good barbecue. And mostly I’m thankful that I got to see all of this with my best friend.
Thank you for joining us on our Must-See Tour of D.C.