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September 11 Memorial: Remembering the victims who died at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania

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Zandra F. Ploger

Age: 48

Hometown: Annandale, Va., USA

Occupation: N/A

Location: Passenger, American Flight 77, Pentagon

"I just remember that when Erin and I were younger, my mom told us we could get a cat. On the trip to pick it up, we were thinking of a name. By the time we got there, she had named it and it was just her cat ever since. Max would cuddle up with her. He slept with her. She would spoon-feed him. He got groomed once a month. One time my husband came to visit and [he] was going to shoo the cat out of the chair and my mom said, 'Let me get you another chair.' She just loved this cat, and she showed him a lot of affection." --Zena C. Tedesco, daughter

Profile:

This was to be the honeymoon they waited almost four months to take: Hawaii. First-class seats all the way. Two weeks of nothing but relaxation.

Zandra Cooper Ploger was so excited to leave on vacation with her new husband, Robert Riis Ploger III, that she had packed her bags a full week before. "I'm not going to worry about work," Ploger told her daughter, Zena Tedesco. "The both of us deserve this trip."

Replied Tedesco: "Say a prayer on the plane."

And before the trip, Tedesco made a special plea: She prayed that her mother reach Hawaii safely. "I was crying for my mom, saying my prayers before I went to sleep," she said. "I knew something was going to happen."

The Annandale couple wed May 12, a second marriage for both of them. He was 59 and she was 48, and they had four grown children between them. But they acted like teenagers in puppy love. They held hands all the time. His nickname for her was "Pretty"; hers for him, "Love." They played tennis together and were unabashed Trekkies.

She was a consummate party organizer and hostess, already planning a huge bash for Bob's 60th birthday Dec. 19. She also loved reading mystery novels and collecting porcelain figurines. He was a Mr. Fix-It and skilled woodworker who also enjoyed barbecuing. They loved the company of their families and friends.

They married on the pontoon boat of their neighbor Kate Giroux in the middle of Lake of the Woods in Virginia. It was a "textbook perfect" event, Giroux recalled, with a flower-bedecked boat and dock, champagne and a celebratory lap around the lake.

Because of the couple's busy work lives -- she was a manager at IBM for more than 20 years, and he worked at Lockheed Martin on research and development projects for two decades -- they could not get away for an extended trip until September.

American Airlines Flight 77 from Washington to Los Angeles was the first leg of their honeymoon.

Lockheed Martin Chairman and Chief Executive Vance Coffman called Bob Ploger an "outstanding technologist and lead systems architect for some of our most important programs, and he will be dearly missed."

His daughter and regular Saturday doubles partner, Wendy Chamberlain, recalled their last set together only a week ago. As it ended, her father laughed with a friend about the old saying "Only the good die young."

"They would joke and say that, then, they would live forever," she said.

-- Sylvia Moreno

<style> #PentmemMemoryWrap { margin-left: 95px; width: 506px; background: #faf7ec; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; color: #2e2e2e; } #PentmemMemoryTop { padding: 14px; } #PentmemMemoryTop img { padding: 0px 0px 0px 10px; } #PentmemMemoryTop .headline { font-size: 12px; font-weight: bold; } #memAuthor { float: right; margin: 2px 20px 20px 0px; font-weight: bold; } .blurb { font-size: 11px; line-height: 16px; margin-left: -92px} </style> <div id="PentmemMemoryWrap"> <div id="PentmemMemoryTop"> <div class="blurb"><p><!-- <img src="http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/interactives/pentagonmemorial/images/1487.jpg" align="right" border="0"> -->"In our family's eyes, she was the greatest hostess. Every Thanksgiving, no detail was overlooked as our mom created a scrumptious meal for her family and friends. She would prep days in advance, taking care of each and every detail, from the mouth-watering menu to the elegant table setting. Aromas of herb-roasted turkey with shiitake mushroom gravy, cinnamon-laced sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie cheesecake filled our home. Today, the smells of Thanksgiving invoke warm memories of our mother, and we delight in her favorite holiday with the same excitement as she did."</p> <div id="memAuthor">-- Erin C. Cherubin, daughter <!-- /end memAuthor --></div> <!-- /end blurb --></div> <br> </div> </div>

Source: The Washington Post, AP and washingtonpost.com

The profiles in this feature were written in the months following Sept. 11, 2001.

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Timeline

A day after the 9/11 attacks a makeshift memorial was created on the Arlington Memorial Cemetery fence. Seven years later, the first 9/11 memorial is opening.

Related Coverage:

3-Dimensional Virtual Memorial

Victims Remembered in Maryland

One Family's Loss

Stepping Through the Ashes

Pentagon Under Attack

Five Year Anniversary Coverage


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