Friday, March 18, 2005

From the Pentagon to the Press Club

This morning we left our Woodley Park Apartments to travel to the Pentagon to meet some staff and take a tour. We were 5 minutes late, thanks metro!

Well, first we met the press officer and were "briefed" by him in the actual Pentagon Briefing Room. We stopped that after 20 minutes and watched as CNN's Barbara Starr made a live report from that very room, and continued when she was done.

We had a tour given by a friendly Coast Guard Seaman (don't make fun of his rank, he's a good guy) who told us to call him Curtis. He showed us flags, paintings, and all sorts of interesting stuff, but the most amazing part of it all started when he said "On September 11, 2001..." and took us to the part of the Pentagon where the plane hit.

It kinda bothered me that there was no dress code for this place. I was dressed in my good black suit, and my colleagues were all in fine, respectful clothes, and we were very reverent as we toured the memorial and chapel inside the Pentagon.

Tourists, however, were in T-Shirts and shorts as they gawked about on this hallowed ground. I just think the 184 good people who died there deserve better, but that's just me.

We left that area, and waited at the door to the innermost part of the Pentagon, the courtyard, as several huge carts (each one big enough to hold 3 bodies) went by with packages marked "classified" and "secret" and the like. I hope it's OK for me to say that much. If it isn't, I doubt I'll wake up in the morning.

We then went outside and walked around the courtyard, where no one is required to salute anyone, while Curtis told us an interesting story:

"(paraphrasing) During the cold war, the Soviets would look at the Pentagon via spy satellites and see large numbers of people walking out of the Pentagon at midday, going to a small building in the middle of the Courtyard, and returning with packages in their hands.

"This, they concluded, meant that the Pentagon was just a building sitting on top of a much larger military base, which is located underneath and accessed through that little building. Thus, they decided, in the event of nuclear war, to aim a part of their arsenal to hit that tiny building and destroy whatever is underneath.

"To this day, that tiny building is sometimes referred to as "Ground Zero," and is joked to serve the most dangerous hot dogs in the world."

I love good stories.

After that, the tour was over and we were set free outside the Pentagon, where we got back on the Metro and went back to the bureau, arriving at 12:30.

I was then reminded of a speech at the Press Club by Levar Burton that was to happen at 1:00, which I did attend and will post about tonight or this weekend because I took notes and this deserves it's own post, it's that cool.


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