9/11 Memorial advocate urges unity
Jim Laychak, president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, speaks during the McNamara Headquarters Complex 9/11 remembrance ceremony at Fort Belvoir, Va., Sept. 9, 2010. Laychak's brother, a Department of the Army civilian, was killed in the Pentagon

FORT BELVOIR, Va., Sept. 10, 2010 - As the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks approaches and Americans reflect on that period, they should focus on the outpouring of patriotism and community of Sept. 12 and beyond rather than the tragic events surrounding the actual attacks, the president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund said here yesterday.

In the days and weeks following 9/11, Americans came together, comforted each other, showed their patriotism and flew American flags, Jim Laychak said in a remembrance ceremony at the McNamara Headquarters Complex here. The event was a joint effort of the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

"I had relatives and neighbors who all offered comfort and support," Laychak said. "Thank you for remembering the day that our family will always remember."

Laychak's brother Dave, a Department of the Army civilian, was killed in the Pentagon attack. Afterward, Laychak became involved in the funding and design of the Pentagon Memorial to honor the lives lost. The Pentagon Memorial was the first of the three national 9/11 memorials to be dedicated and opened to the public.

"We raised the money; the memorial was built, and it was dedicated two years ago," he said. "I think the great thing about the memorial is it is focused on not telling people what to think, but to just make them think."

Everyone who visits the memorial experiences it in a different way, he said. School groups going through tend to stop at the benches dedicated to the school children killed while on a National Geographic-sponsored trip.

"If they are sixth graders, they think about the fact those kids were the same age," Laychak said. "They all take something different away. They rededicate themselves."

He said to think about Sept. 12, 2001, because it's important to note what Americans do differently since the attacks.

"My brother and others are in a much better place," Laychak said. "For all of us, we go on and try to figure out how we will honor their lives and live our lives differently."

DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Alan S. Thompson noted that Sept. 11, 2010, marks nine years since the Tuesday morning when America was attacked by terrorists seeking to permanently change the lives of its citizens.

"These attacks caused a great loss of life and great sadness for families, but they didn't change the American way and what we value," he said. "Over the last nine years, the United States has moved quickly forward bringing those responsible for these terrorist attacks to justice."

As the host of the 9/11 remembrance ceremony, Thompson said many of the courageous men and women serving in the military today were just children when the attacks occurred, and these service members are a part of the reason DLA exists, to support them each and every day.

"Many of you have your own stories from that September day - some knew victims of the attacks, some of you were in the Pentagon, others have served on the frontline - we stand here today to honor these American patriots," Thompson said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16