On Tuesday, my dad offered to give us a tour of the Pentagon. They offer guided tours to the public, but since he works there, he could give us a condensed tour better suited to the interests of my 2.5-year-old and my 7-year-old.
I wasn’t sure the largest office building in the world, even shaped like a pentagon, would be interesting to my daughter, but when I presented her the options for that day she jumped up and down and said, “The Pentagon! The Pentagon!”
“It’s the place where Grandpa works,” I clarified, thinking that maybe I’d not been clear enough about what the Pentagon was, exactly. “It’s his office. Like when you visit Daddy’s office?”
“Yeah! I want to visit Grandpa’s office!”
All right then.
We didn’t really need to take the Metro to get there, but the kids really wanted to ride an underground train. So my dad parked at The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City where there’s a Metro stop and we rode the one stop to the Pentagon from there. After passing the security checks and promising not to use our cameras, we were inside. Dad pointed out a bullet hole in one of the doors from the 2010 shooting there. Good times.
The Pentagon really is a huge place. We walked through the center courtyard (the snack bar there was the target of Soviet missiles for years) and it wasn’t readily apparent that we were surrounded by the building.
My dad says it’s the largest no-salute zone in the US military. It’s a pretty practical relaxation of regulations. With so many military personnel in one building, if they were required to stop and salute, they’d never have a chance to get any work done.
Another interesting thing: it’s like a mini-city in itself. There are restaurants (including a nice formal dining room) and a dentist’s office, a hair cutting place, a pharmacy, a florist. There are places to buy sheets and handbags and suits. Dad says it’s set up like that so that the people who work there don’t have to leave during the day, since it’s kind of a pain to get in and out.
And there are twice as many bathrooms as they need for the number of employees there because when it was built in the 1940’s, they had to have double facilities to comply with the segregation laws of the time.
But the most fun part of the Pentagon for my kids? The white board in Grandpa’s office. It was a pretty basic white board, but they got to draw on it with markers in FIVE colors! The United States clearly is the best country in the world.
Second place went to the pretzels in Grandpa’s office.
Everything else my daughter declared in an irritating singsong, “BOR-ING!” And then my son tried to make a break for it and, when I attempted to restrain him, decided to have a tantrum as we were trying to exit the building.
There’s something unsettling about managing a toddler meltdown under the gaze of officers carrying guns.
Since we weren’t allowed to take photos inside the building, the best I could get was the pizza lunch the kids enjoyed back at the mall food court.
I couldn’t find anything I could eat so I enjoyed the snacks I’d brought in my bag.
I love how they hang the American flag the same way they hang the advertisements.