Mason Alumnus Heads Pentagon Memorial Fund

Posted: September 4, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Leah Kerkman Fogarty

Seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the first national monument to honor those who lost their lives will be dedicated, with a Mason alum at the helm.

An invitation-only dedication is scheduled to mark the day, and it will be the culmination of nearly four years of full-time work on the part of Jim Laychak, BS Accounting ‘83 and BS Decision Sciences ’83.

Laychak is a senior director at consulting firm Accenture and president and chairman of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, the fund-raising arm for the Arlington site of the Pentagon Memorial. Laychak’s brother, David, a civilian working for the Army at the Pentagon, died when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.

“How could I not volunteer for the job? Knowing everything that I know about this, I had to help out,” Laychak says of his role at the fund. “And I know my brother would’ve done the same thing for me.”

Jim Laychak at Pentagon Memorial
Jim Laychak at the Pentagon Memorial.
Photo by Evan Cantwell

He credits his time at Mason with giving him the skills to run the fund. He also says he learned a lot about fund raising and leadership when he served as vice president of service for the Alumni Association from 1997 to 2000, president from 2000 to 2002 and past president from 2002 to 2004.

The design of the Pentagon Memorial, chosen from more than 1,000 entries, is simple yet powerful: 184 individual memorials, one to represent every victim of the crash, occupy nearly 2 acres on the west side of the Pentagon. The memorials are stainless steel, cantilevered benches, each inscribed with a victim’s name. Reflecting pools sit underneath each bench and 90 paperbark maples will be planted around the memorial.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates will host the dedication ceremony, which begins at 8 a.m. The memorial will open to the public the evening of Thursday, Sept.11.

Officials expect as many as two million people to visit the site within a year.

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