April 27, 2007

Moving beyond words.....

I'm hoping to get some additional pictures from Thursday's event honoring the Children of our Military Families from some of the girls at work. And I'm tryin' sooo hard to get my thoughts and feelings down. That will be a pretty long post so what I'm planning on doing is splitting off some of the stories of the day out.

I don't want to cloud THAT with my personal stuff. It's too important.

BUT - that being said - Holy Crap! I spent yesterday at the Pentagon!!! Me! Tammi.

Most everyone who knows me knows how damned excited I was. I mean really, think about it! Combining two of my deepest passions - children and the military. I was over the top.

Even as tired as I was that morning, there was such a spring in my step. Got dressed in my jeans and white shirt (required) and took what I needed out of my purse. I had read NO large bags, and given I had taken my travelin' purse I just wasn't going to take any chances.

I met up with the team in the lobby where I find out that we're taking the Metro. Now, I have to tell you....my metro experiences have not been good. At all. I was not real thrilled with this plan, but majority rules so I sucked it up and followed along.

It rocked. Clean. Efficient. Quiet. Now, will I take it by myself next weekend at MilBlog Conf.? No, no I will not. I am NOT missin' a minute of that, and who KNOWS where I'd end up alone!!! But this was a great way to travel.

As we come out of the station one of the ladies in the group we were meeting asked where we got our coffee in the station?

We didn't. We got it in the hotel.

Seems that's kinda sorta illegal to take liquids on the metro in DC. We had no idea. And honest to pete, if they had signs up, I wouldn't have seen them anyway - I was consuming my first cup of coffee.

It was at that point I looked at the ladies I was traveling with and announced that from there on we obey EVERY SINGLE RULE. I was NOT getting thrown out of the Pentagon. A football stadium? ok. Pentagon? No way in hell.

They all agreed that would be a bad thing.

Anyway.......we meet up with our very handsome escort and start towards the entrance. I felt my heart start to beat a bit faster.

I was going to the Pentagon. Really. I was almost there.

All around us are suits and uniforms. Everyone looked so......smart. Crisp. Confident.

Now, I'm honest enough to admit I'm rather vain. Especially when I'm traveling. MOST especially when it's to a place like this. But yesterday we had to wear "the uniform". It was going to be a busy day and we needed to make it easy for the children and their parents to know who was who.

So there I was, hair in a headband, dressed like 50 other people. Minimal make-up, tennis shoes (which I hate) and a big honkin' name tag that one of our designers made. Folks....it had glitter on it for cryin' out loud!

Anyway, as we gathered in the room awaiting our instructions I just had to laugh. Talk about NOT blending in to your surroundings.

But I didn't care. I was at the Pentagon.

They hand out our packets that include ANOTHER name tag, this one made like a daisy, a red apron and some other chachkeys. Then it's off as a group to the courtyard.

Here's the funny part. As soon as we got into the building I got quiet. I mean really quiet. My heart was beating, and all I could do was look around. Realize WHERE I was. Who I was walking around with.

And as we were escorted through the hallways I realized my eyes were misty. Now, we didn't get to see much of anything, and they were moving us at a pretty fast clip. But still. Every where I looked were things I wanted to stop and read. Study. Enjoy.

Eventually we got to the entrance to the courtyard. As we came out on the landing overlooking everything all I could do was smile. A sea of uniforms. And a smoking area. See folks - I meet more people while grabbin' a cigarette than anyone would ever imagine. It's kind of a bonding experience - social outcasts, huddled around a small container, feeding their filthy habit. Yeah - we bond.

Anyway - we got everything set up and then took a stroll around the courtyard. A lot of construction goin' on, but still....a beautiful setting.

During the day they were giving abbreviated tours for the group. Since the grand tour was scheduled for Friday I wanted to jump into one of these. Hey - a tour is a tour. And who knows if I'll ever have this chance again.

It was basically a tour of the 9/11 Memorial Hall. Sobering. Heart wrenching. Full of hope.

I have always thought we tend to NOT talk about the terrorist attacks that occurred in Washington on that day. I don't know if it's because it was a "Military Target" or what, but I've always felt we didn't bring that part of the day up as much as the other. And I remember sitting at my desk and watching that unfold. When I heard they had attacked our Pentagon, I felt shear, absolute terror. That is the most secure building in this country. If she can be attacked NO WHERE is safe. And the loss......oh dear Lord, the loss.

So yeah, it was very emotional for me to be in that hallway. In the chapel. To read the names and stories of the victims. I had the honor of meeting a gentleman who was a survivor of that day. And to watch him interact with our escort. The look of respect on the young man's face as the gentleman told us his story. More moving than I can find words for.

While I didn't get a Dog & Pony tour, what I did see, those I did talk to.....unbelievable. Unforgettable.

So.....we went back out to our station and went back to work, helping those children make crafts and telling them how special they are.

WOW. What a day. We had over 400 children, from what I understand. And it was amazing at how well behaved these little heroes were. Seriously. The only meltdown I witnessed was because a little boy refused to leave our table until he had drawn a picture on his frame of me. He wanted to take home a picture of me. Damn it, it chokes me up right now tryin' to write this out. His Daddy was tryin' to get him movin' along to make room for someone else, but he wanted to finish that one part. So I posed as if Rembrandt were painting my portrait, and he finished. And each and every time he saw me for the rest of the day, he waved and hollered "There's MY lady".

Yeah, it was a very special day.

To end this post with a bit of a laugh - here's me after it was all said and done. In my "Crafty Get-Up".


Wopperjawed apron, gaudy buttons and all. Hell, I even LOOK crafty!!!

Posted by Tammi at April 27, 2007 07:26 AM | TrackBack

Damn TammyM I knew not to get on a train Lcause I knew you'd make me cry. I'm sitting here @a diner crying. 4 tissues later I stll have tears.

okay I think I'm composed enough to travel into work now. Thanks for this post and for talking about the attack on the pentagon.

Posted by: .michele at April 27, 2007 08:06 AM

Be safe out there, and have a good time. Lots of things to see in DC.

Great post!!!!!!

Posted by: BloodSpite at April 27, 2007 08:07 AM

Great post Tammi ! Congratulation.

Posted by: Mike D. at April 27, 2007 10:34 AM

If there was one thing I heard about after 9/11 was the Pentagon.

Mr Weenie's Uncle and Brother work for a defense contractor and were connected to the Pentagon, were in it weekly and knew a lot of people in the Pentagon.

They told us all about it, the people they knew that died and survived. They had pictures and told us their story of that day (they both were flying that morning and usually took the flight that crashed into the Pentagon but were not on that flight that day due to a sale that United had for flying out of Baltimore).

I always remember the Pentagon.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at April 27, 2007 11:24 AM
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