Today I had the opportunity to experience something few people ever will … six hours inside the Pentagon. I am not gloating about this; I am sharing what I can with you. That is an awesome and unbelievable place, a structure containing the greatest amount of military might on the planet.
We were just four radio guys doing our jobs and telling listeners about the incredible jobs and activity within that building, activities that keep our whole country safe.
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense. More than 23,000 military and civilian people work there, including the top people in each military service branch. I was there to help with my radio station’s Morning Show broadcast and to record a few interviews with people who work there. During the show we were told that our radio station was the first ever to do a live show broadcast inside the building. Wow! We had no idea. Sure, there are radio news organizations with offices there, but we’re a country music radio station. It turns out we’re very popular there.
A couple of us were given two separate tours that took us through areas that are not on the public tours. We saw things I probably can’t really talk about on this blog. I’ll err on the side of caution. I’m sure somebody inside the building can read this blog just because I mention Pentagon in it. Scary!
Some random information and observations:
- The Pentagon is the world’s largest office building, with more than 6 million square feet of office space.
- It was built during World War Two and, ironically, construction started on September 11th (1941).
- On September 11, 2001, as you know, one of the terrorist planes was intentionally crashed into the building, killing 59 people on board and 125 more in the building. (The five hijackers were killed too, but I don’t call them people).
- Part of the public tour as well as our tour includes a walk down the rebuilt section of the building destroyed in the attack. There is a diagram showing where each person was that morning, indicating who died, who was injured, who survived.
- The building includes several food courts. Our broadcast table was next to a Starbucks (awesome placement, in my opinion).
- There was a continuous line at the Starbucks from the moment it opened till when we left three hours later.
- At one point two of the four of us weren’t paying attention as we walked into a hallway and nearly ran over, uhhh, this is embarrassing, someone who looked very familiar, like maybe we’ve seen him on TV before. Yes, that really was Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
- Security checkpoints to get in are very strict and meticulous. It is almost as difficult to leave.
- Even though this is a serious place, we had the opportunity to take goody pictures in the press briefing room.
- This was one of only two place in the building where we could photograph anything. Hold a camera up anywhere else and big guys in uniforms show up out of nowhere to check you out (and possibly escort you out).
We are fortunate to live in this country and today I and four co-workers were lucky to have a few hours of access in a place that helps keep this country free and safe.