Unless you have lived your life completely isolated from every form of media then you have probably heard of the Pentagon. The Pentagon is found in Arlington, Virginia and it is the headquarters of the Department of Defense. It is a massive building that employs more than 25,000 military and civilian employees. It is called the Pentagon because it has five sides, five floors and five ring corridors. That may not sound like much but there are almost 18 miles worth of walkways with the center courtyard having 5 acres. It is a “no hat, no salute” zone meaning military personnel don’t salute or wear hats. Touring the Pentagon is a must do if you are in Arlington but you will need to prepare ahead of time.
Protesting Outside the Pentagon
During the Vietnam War there were plenty of protests that went on outside the Pentagon but a couple of them stand out. In 1967 there was an anti-war protest that drew a crowd of more than 35,000 people. It was put together by the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, here they confronted more than 2,500 armed soldiers.
Attacks on the Pentagon
In 1972 after the Nixon administration ordered attacks on Hanoi in the last stages of the war in Vietnam the organization known as the Western Underground Organization planted a bomb in one of the bathrooms at the Pentagon. The bomb caused extensive water damage ruining computer tapes that held classified information. The last and most violent attack on the Pentagon came on September 11 when the hijacked plane crashed into the building killing everyone on board along with more than a hundred staff members in the building.
Touring the Pentagon
After the 9/11 hijacking you can only tour the Pentagon if you book in advance. You must have a group of at least five people and it needs to be from a school, another government agency, military unit or a boy/girl scout troupe. You can tour as a member of the general public but those requests need to come from a state representative and reserved at least three weeks ahead of time. Tours of the Pentagon are always free but not easy to book.
The volunteers who conduct the tour are all from the military and the tour will take about 90 minutes and you’re going to walk about a mile and half altogether. There are a number of displays that you will get to see along the way, some from each branch of the Armed Services along with the mission of the Department of Defense. More than 100,000 people tour the Pentagon each year, make sure that you check it out next time you visit Arlington.