9/11 victims remembered day before new president is sworn in

THE PENTAGON [Peter Paul Media] — When entering the memorial here to honour some of the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, you are immediately reminded of the youngest victim to perish on that fateful day.

The Pentagon Memorial, located on the southwest side of the U.S. Department of Defense Headquarters, was unveiled publicly on September 11, 2008, exactly seven years after the horrific attacks on the United States.

A steady stream of visitors file in and out just one day before President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in just miles away, ushering in a new, post-9/11 time for America. The building still bares scars from that terrible day but they are barely visible.

At 9:37 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 jetliner scheduled from Washington’s Dulles airport to LAX in Los Angeles, slammed into the Pentagon in what seemed like a day that would never end — jetliners were falling from the sky into American megastructures for the first time since Pearl Harbour. The world had changed forever in an instant.

Each bench at the memorial has a name inscribed — 184 in total honouring those who died. The five hijackers are not included in the official toll or memorial. The names of victims who died in the Pentagon face the wall of impact and victims who died on the plane face the opposite way.

Dana Falkenburg, 3, died on Flight 77 as it crashed into the west side of the Pentagon on 9/11. Dana was the youngest of five children aboard and her father and mother were also killed in the attack. Charles Falkenburg and Leslie A. Whittington were both 45 when they died. Dana’s sister, 8-year-old Zoe Falkenburg, also perished. This is the only case where an entire family was killed on 9/11.

The remains of Dana along with five others were never positively identified. Those remains were buried at Arlington National Cemetery on September 11, 2002. None were directly linked to a victim.

The oldest victim, 71-year-old John D. Yamnicky Sr. died on route to Los Angeles for official business. Mr. Yamnicky, a retired naval aviator, was the final 9/11 funeral at Arlington National Cemetery for victims of the Pentagon attack.

In total, 59 people died aboard Flight 77 while another 125 people died inside the Pentagon. Area hospitals treated 106 victims in the immediate aftermath, 57 of whom were treated and released immediately afterwards, an After-Action report by Arlington County said.

The victims aboard the doomed jetliner passed over the exact area where the memorial now lies, whispering voices forever in the skies above Arlington.

Below the benches, a gentle flow of water flows constantly as a reminder of the tragedy never to be forgotten.

With files from the Washington Post, U.S. Department of Defense, CNN Transcripts, Arlington National Cemetery Online, Arlington County After-Action Report on Pentagon attack, Popular Mechanics.

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