Gloria Calderon, flanked by her children Jose Jr. and Vanessa, attend today's 9-11 observance ceremony held at the Pentagon. Gloria's husband, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jose Calderon, was one of 125 Pentagon workers who perished when terrorist-hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon's west wall on Sept. 11, 2001. DoD photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
"We were very close," Darryl Young said of his sister Lisa, an Army civilian employee who was one of the 125 people in the Pentagon who perished when terrorist-hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the five-sided building's west wall on Sept. 11, 2001. Fifty-nine victims aboard the airliner died in the attack. "I still think about her all the time," Darryl said of his departed sister.
Braving a chilly rain, Darryl and other surviving family members observed a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial attended by President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Obamas personally greeted the families after the service. The president's attention "made me cry a little bit," Darryl said.
Gloria Calderon, accompanied by her 18-year-old daughter Vanessa and 11-year-old son Jose Jr., was misty-eyed as she recalled the loss of her husband Jose, an Army sergeant first class who died at the Pentagon. The wreath-laying ceremony "was very emotional," said Gloria, adding that it was "very nice" that the president and first lady attended the observance. "I'm glad that he was here, too, to support us in our loss," Vanessa said of Obama.
As she surveyed the memorial's grounds after the wreath-laying ceremony, Crystal Scott noted that the memory of her departed mother, Army civilian employee Janice Scott, is still fresh in her mind. It is important to "remember her and the rest of the members who lost their lives," Crystal said. The Pentagon Memorial is "a wonderful way to honor" the victims of the attack, Crystal said, adding that today "is a time for reflection."
Opened on Sept. 11, 2008, the Pentagon Memorial is the first dedicated national commemorative to honor those killed during the 2001 terrorist attacks. The memorial consists of 184 memorial benches honoring the 59 people aboard American Airlines Flight 77 and the 125 in the Pentagon killed in the attacks.