By Mr. Johnson, often nefarious - Flickr: Pentagon Memorial-5089, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Today’s high school and middle school students have no memory of September 11, 2001. A visit to the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is important because it connects youth with recent history. There are deep discussions and meaningful connections to be made on a school trip to Washington, D.C. 

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Washington, D.C. is a quiet, contemplative spot dotted with Crape Myrtle trees and gracefully cantilevered benches. Each bench at the Memorial just outside of the Pentagon bears the name of one of the 184 innocent lives lost in the Pentagon attack. Though they appear separate from one another, the benches are connected by a single stream of running water, whose current ripples underneath the entirety of the Memorial.


The direction each bench faces wordlessly communicates to visitors whether or not the person honored perished inside the Pentagon or aboard the plane. Your guide will explain the symbolism and also show you how to find the name of each victim on the bench itself. Your group may choose to sit or walk through the Memorial with your guide. Remember, though, that the Memorial is a place for reflection and remembrance.


When inside the Memorial, you’ll be facing the western side of the Pentagon building. If you look closely, you’ll see a different coloration of stone in the middle as compared with the outer edges. This is where the building was reconstructed after the fatal strike.  


A visit to the Pentagon Memorial is often timed with a lunch or dinner stop at the nearby Pentagon City Mall, and it is walking distance from the United States Air Force Memorial. 


There is a walk involved from which ever direction you approach, as tour buses are not allowed near the Memorial for security purposes, and there are limited restrooms. No photography of the actual Pentagon building is allowed – even from the outside – so follow guidelines closely. Trust me, I’ve seen plenty of people get hassled by building security.


The Pentagon Memorial is a place to discuss the events of recent history and the impact of the events of September 11, 2001, on our nation today.

The SCHOOL TRIP SPOTLIGHT is written by NationsClassroom’s expert, licensed guides and features exciting attractions from the most popular student travel destinations on the historic East Coast.

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Originally published December, 2019, updated September, 2020