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Remembering Sept. 11: Memorial marks tragedy at Pentagon site

POSTED: September 14, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Among the 184 people killed when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, was Edna Stephens, a Gainesville native who lived in Washington, D.C., and worked as a civilian budget analyst for the Army.

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As Sept. 11 passes each year, people across America stop to remember the tragic events that happened on that day in 2001.

And today, seven years later, a new memorial will open at the Pentagon that will give people a place to sit and remember where American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the government building, killing 184 people.

Among those 184 was Edna Stephens, a Gainesville native who lived in Washington, D.C., and worked as a civilian budget analyst for the Army.

Stephens was 53 when she died while working at the Pentagon.

And she will be memorialized at the new Pentagon Memorial just outside her former workplace.

The Pentagon Memorial will be open to the public today at 7 p.m. and will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week from then on.

The memorial park will feature 184 memorial benches, one for each person who died when the plane hit the Pentagon.

The benches are cantilevered, meaning they are rooted to the ground on one end and freestanding on the other, and a victim’s name and age will be inscribed on each.

The units will be oriented within the memorial to convey if the person was in the air or at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

The 59 benches representing those aboard Flight 77 will face away from the building so that when viewed, the victim’s name is seen against the sky.

The other 125 face the Pentagon so their names can be read with the building behind it.

And victims will be recognized not only by name but by age.

The benches will be arranged starting with the Pentagon crash’s youngest victim, 3-year-old Dana Falkenberg, all the way to the oldest, John D. Yamnicky, 71.

There also will be a wall that corresponds to the age of each person represented at the memorial.

The wall begins at the start of the memorial at just 3 inches, to represent Falkenberg, and increases to 71 inches at the deepest point in the park, ending with Yamnicky’s age at the time of his death.

Nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The Pentagon Memorial represents the plane that crashed into the Pentagon after it was hijacked by terrorists.

In New York City, where the majority were killed, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed after two commercial airliners crashed into them. A third plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania.


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