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National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia

Arlington, Virginia

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, honors the 184 victims who died in the five-sided building or aboard American flight #77 when terrorists crashed the plane into its south side on that awful morning in 2001.

The roughly two-acre Memorial features 184 illuminated benches, arranged according to the victims’ ages.  Each bench is engraved with the name of a victim and sits above a shallow lighted pool of flowing water.

The benches honoring people who were inside the Pentagon are arranged so that visitors will face the building’s rebuilt south façade while reading their names; benches dedicated to passengers and crew aboard the plane are placed so that people reading the engraved names will face skyward along the path the plane flew.  If more than one member of a family died in the attack, relatives’ names are listed below the bench.  A wall along the edge of the Memorial begins at a height of 3 inches and climbs to 71 inches, representing the age range of the victims.  Eighty-five crape myrtle trees shelter the 184 benches.

A black granite entry stone declares the Memorial’s 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.

Approximately 500,000 people pay respects at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial each year.  I recently visited with several members of my local history group.  It is one of the most peaceful and elegant memorials I’ve explored, and it’s heartening to see the rebuilt south façade of the Pentagon.  I remember driving with a friend past the building on the day after the attack and seeing the horrible gaping hole, but also the American flag flying above it.  We know people who were in the building that day; we’re grateful that they survived, and we will never forget.

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What to Know before You Go to the
National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial


The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is located at One North Rotary Road in Arlington, Virginia.  Parking at the Pentagon is restricted.  The best way to approach the Memorial is via the adjacent neighborhood of Pentagon City.  There is some street parking and ample garage parking at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.  There is also a ride-share drop-off/pick-up spot at the mall’s main entrance, between the Shake Shack and matchbox restaurants.  If you prefer the Metro, the Pentagon City stop is on the blue and yellow lines.   Follow the signs to the Pentagon Memorial.  You will go through a pedestrian tunnel across Army-Navy Drive, in front of Macy’s, and then over a Pentagon parking lot to reach the Memorial.

The Memorial is free of charge to visit.  It is open 24 hours, approximately 363 days per year; it is closed for roughly 48 hours beginning c. September 9 each year in order to prepare for the annual remembrance ceremony.  There is an audio tour that you may download here or access by dialing 202-741-1004.  The Memorial is especially lovely after twilight, when the pools beneath the benches are lit up.

Wear comfortable but respectful clothing and shoes.  Service animals are allowed, but pets are not.  You may bring bottled water, but no other drinks or foods; there are plenty of places to eat in Pentagon City.  Allow 30 to 45 minutes.

To book a room at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, click here.

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