Groundbreaking Ceremony for Sept. 11 Pentagon Memorial

Friends and relatives of Sept. 11 victims joined Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Thursday for the groundbreaking on a memorial to the 184 people killed in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

The two-acre memorial, to be built near the site of the attack at the Pentagon's west wall, will feature benches set over small reflecting pools for each of the victims. It is expected to be completed by the fall of 2008.

The memorial "will remind visitors that every one of these lives was special ... with lives cut short and families left behind," Rumsfeld said during a brief ceremony that drew more than 500 invited guests.

Lisa Dolan, whose husband, Robert, was a Navy officer killed in the attack, said "it was important to have a place with some peace and tranquility."

The designs for the memorial will make it "a place where you can really sit and reflect. At night, with all the lights, it's going to be beautiful. It's going to be very peaceful."

The design was selected in 2003 from more than 1,000 entries. Architects Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman said they incorporated family members' suggestions into their final blueprint. For instance, the pair initially planned to plant a maple tree at each of the 184 benches.

But family members were concerned that when a tree died, its death would be associated with that particular victim. So they reduced the number of trees and will plant them so that no individual tree will be associated with any victim.

Beckman said she wanted the design to emphasize life and resemble a park more than a monument.

Rumsfeld said he wanted the memorial to convey to future Americans "that their countrymen's grief was turned toward the cause of their nation's defense.

Organizers hope to raise a total of $22 million for construction, plus another $10 million for maintenance. About $11 million has been raised so far.