County seeks designs for Sept. 11 memorial

Stepping to the lectern at a Prince William Board of County Supervisors meeting to talk about the death of her husband on Sept. 11 was no easy task for Laurie Laychak.

But she did it because she wants to bring recognition to the contribution those at the Pentagon made and help people to remember that what happened in Prince William didn’t happen to everyone: “it happened in our back yard.”

“This has devastated our lives,” Laychak told the board Tuesday “It’s hard to comprehend such a hard worker and good community member went to work one day and never came home.”

Her husband, David Laychak, was an Army civilian at the Pentagon. She was left with two children, one aged 7 and the other, 10.

She is one of two family members, nonprofit organizations, businesses, citizens and government that have come together to build a memorial to county victims of Sept. 11.

At 19, Prince William lost more lives at the Pentagon than any other Northern Virginia county, said county Communications Director Liz Bahrns. One life, Jeff Simpson’s, was lost at the World Trade Center. And John Michael Spann, a CIA agent, was killed in action in Afghanistan. The names of each of those people is expected to be remembered in some way.

The memorial design process will rely heavily on community input. The county will kick off its campaign for design of the memorial on June 14, Flag Day.

Those interested in participating must get a submission form and packet of specifications, including criteria and an aerial map of the area, from the Prince William Clean Community Council. The Council will also accept donations.

“We would like to open it up to the community because people have probably thought about ‘if we were to remember them how we would remember them,'” said Prince William County Public Works spokesperson Deb Oliver.

A 14-member committee has recommended the memorial be located near the site of the existing war memorial at the McCoart Administration Center. There in Memorial Grove are listed the names of Prince William County residents who have died in past wars. Spann is expected to be included on that memorial.

The McCoart Administration Center was chosen as the site for the new memorial for its ease of location, accessibility and existing maintenance.

Brenda Lynch said she would like it to be a living memorial because her husband, James Lynch, liked to garden and loved roses. “I like the idea of living plants and trees,” she said.

The families of all county victims will decide the final design, if they want to participate, Bahrns said. The county is working with the Pentagon to locate family members. Professional architects, designers and landscapers will whittle down the selections first and a professional group will be hired to build it.

Funding for the project will come from the community, and there will apparently be no lack, Oliver said. People already have expressed an interest in contributing. The existing memorial, made of granite, cost $20,000 county officials said.

The committee began its work in February but has no fixed date for completing the project. Instead, they have decided to do it right without regard for timing, Oliver said.

Starting June 14, those wishing to participate in the design memorial process can get a submission form and a packet of specifications from the Prince William Clean Community Council, 4370 Ridgewood Center Drive, Suite B, Prince William, VA 22192 or can call the committee at (703) 792-6272.

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