Is that really a hot dog stand in the center of the Pentagon?!
28.12.2012 - 01.01.2013 45 °F
An invite to be given a personally conducted tour of the Pentagon is not to be passed up and so it was that John, Bob, Shelley and I found ourselves at the top of the Pentagon metro station escalator stairs on Friday 28th December. We were greeted by Tod, husband of Nancy, a colleague at Annandale High School. Tod had very kindly offered to take us round the key "points of interest" of the Pentagon building and we were in for a fascinating insight. Security as you can imagine, is very intense especially after 9/11 and this was brought home to us by Tod pointing out a bullet mark on a steel door at the entrance to the complex, made by a crazed gunman very recently.
The interior of the Pentagon is like a mini town, after all, 26.000 personnel are employed in the complex! The employees are fully provided for and you can secure all your personnel shopping needs without ever having to leave the building! The design of the building in a pentagon shape, makes for easy and speedy access to every other part of the complex. Walking past the Joint Chiefs of Staff offices, I had to pinch myself and believe that this was real and not the set of a "Bourne Identity" sequel! The inner courtyard is an amzing open space, where workers can relax outdoors in nice weather and enjoy a hot dog from the multi-million dollar "Hot Dog" restaurant! (Some foreign visitors are not so sure that that is its sole purpose!)
Following the tradgedy of 9/11 many community groups sought some way of expressing their heartfelt grief. The Pentagon received many hand sewn quilts from schools and groups all over the country, each expressing their own thoughts on the event. The exhibits in the "Hall of Quilts" are changed regularly allowing all handiwork to be exhibited and enjoyed by workers and visitors alike.
The victims of the attack on the Pentagon are remembered in a garden with fluidly designed benches designating each of the fallen.
The tour was truly a very memorable experience and one that we all acknowledged would be a highlight of our time in Washing ton DC.
I was told that a visit to "Ford's Theater" to see a"A Christmas Carol" is a Washington tradition not to be missed! Accordingly, the tickets were purchased and John, Cindy and I set out on 30th December to take our seats in the balcony of "Ford's theater", a stone's throw away from the box in which President Abraham Lincoln was shot by assassin John Wilkes Booth on April 14th 1865. Notwithstanding the significance of sitting so close to such an iconic historical site, the musical itself was wonderful and made me want to rush out at interval time and purchase a cone of the sweetest roast chestnuts! (Unfortunately, no street vendors were to be found!). By way of contrast, we decanted after the play to "Hard Rock Cafe" where I brought the house down with a rendition of Dire Straits "Walk of Life", (I think I've missed my true calling!).
"First Night" is the equivalent of Hogmanay over here and John and I joined our friends Joyann, Jim and daughter Fiona in Alexandria, Virginia for First Night, a family focused musical event, showcasing an eclectic mix of musical styles from around the area in various venues. Our musical itinerary took in blues, acapella and jazz. We rounded off the evening with a glass in hand at a lively inn and counted down with the other revellers until we welcomed in 2013!
Happy New Year!