Friday, May 11, 2018

DC Trip 2018 - Pentagon Tour / Arlington Cemetery

Caleb loves cabbage, so we took this silly picture since he's my "Cabbage Patch Kid"

After Philip's conference ended at lunch we headed to the Pentagon and experienced the first major hiccup of the trip.  Philip was checking us in and the person looking for our reservation informed us that we had reserved a tour for the prior day!  Philip figured that was the end of it but security called the tour office and they agreed to let us join the 2 pm group anyway.  Praise God!

Keenan giving a briefing (at the fake press podium in the visitor center)

This is the only place on Pentagon property (other than the 9/11 Memorial) where you can take a picture and from the posted rules it's not even clear that this next picture of Moriah would be okay even though it is right next to the press podium.

I bought this pretty Christmas tree ornament to commemorate our trip

The Pentagon tour was actually much more interesting than I expected it would be.   Some facts from the tour:

The Pentagon is designed to be completely self sufficient.   For its 26,000 employees, it has lots of restaurants, a candy shop, a barber shop, clothing stores, a jewelry store, a huge gym, two banks, etc.
There are 17.5 Miles of hallways inside the Pentagon.  

We walked through the area that was destroyed on 9/11 and one of the most special parts of the tour was hearing about what happened on September 11th, and seeing the memorial for those who died.   I did not remember knowing that the plane had initially been planning to crash into side of the building that housed the Secretary of Defense's office, but they came in too high, so had to circle around, and instead hit the part of the building that was the strongest and least populated (due to recent renovation work).  Wow!

After the Pentagon we returned to the metro and traveled one stop to Arlington Cemetery.  Philip had only ever walked the grounds in the past but with three kids he'd already decided to pay for the tram that drives guests around the grounds.

First stop was the eternal flame at John F. Kennedy's grave

Looking up at Arlington House, former home of Gen. Robert E. Lee

The graves stones are lines up vertically, horizontally and diagonally

Over 400,000 people are buried here

The guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Exactly 21 steps from side to side, with two 21 second pauses at each end

Philip explaining what the Tomb of the Unknown Solider means
"Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God"

We had front row seats for two wreath laying ceremonies that occurred while an Honor Flight of what appeared to be predominantly Vietnam veterans watched.  They don't normally play any music during the normal changing of the guard so it was pretty moving to stand at attention while Taps was played by a bugler from the Army Band.

After announcing the start of the ceremony the senior NCO inspects the on-coming sentinal

Exchange of orders between the sentries

The new sentry has taken his place

Notice here how they are not lined up...

But fall into perfect step at just the right time

The new sentry begins his first 21 second pause

The Columbia memorial which was destroyed during re-entry

The Challenger memorial (Philip attended Ronald McNair Middle School)

The Memorial Amphitheater

Canadian Cross of Sacrifice
Honors American's who served and died with Canadian units in WW1 & WW2

The Women's Museum

After the cemetery we headed to the Pentagon City mall and had dinner.  It was crazy with bus wave after bus wave of school kids visiting DC.  What a crazy loud place.  After that Philip scammed us into another 2.4 mile walk around the area.

First stop was up hill to the Air Force Memorial

The three spires represent the core values of the Air Force ... Integrity, Service and Excellence

Philip played the Air Force Song on his phone as we turned the corner into the memorial...

They're huge!

Taking a leg break at the edge of the memorial

We then headed downhill past the edge of Arlington and back to the Pentagon to visit the 9/11 Memorial outside of the building.  As mentioned above, this is the only place on Pentagon land where you can legally take pictures.

There are benches for every single person who died in the plane or in the building

They are organized by year of birth of the victim, from 3 to 71 years old

When we got off the metro near home, Philip and the kids went into a bakery to get some treats, and I saw this Mass of bicycles go by, almost the entire time they were in the bakery!   There were probably 500 bicycles or more!

I have no idea what was going on, but it sure looked fun!

The street was Full - no cars at all!

Look at the size of those cookies!   Philip got these for them since they had done so well with all of the walking and had great behavior during the Pentagon Tour, Changing of the Guard and at the 9/11 Memorial.

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