Friday Morning At The Pentagon
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  1. #1
    Nov 2004
    MXT - DeLeon - Gamma 6000
    61 times

    Friday Morning At The Pentagon

    McClatchy Newspapers

    Over the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air Force
    personnel have given their lives in the terrible duty that is war.
    Thousands more have come home on stretchers, horribly wounded and facing
    months or years in military hospitals..

    This week, I'm turning my space over to a good friend and former
    roommate, Army Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, who recently completed a year
    long tour of duty in Iraq and is now back at the Pentagon.

    Here's Lt. Col. Bateman's account of a little-known ceremony that fills
    the halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and
    many tears every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on the
    Weblog of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media Matters for
    America Website.

    "It is 110 yards from the "E" ring to the "A" ring of the Pentagon. This
    section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the
    hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire
    length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some
    civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls.
    There are thousands here.

    This hallway, more than any other, is the `Army' hallway. The G3 offices
    line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army.
    Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen
    each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the
    way and renew.

    Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air
    conditioning system was not designed for this press of bodies in this
    area. The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares.

    10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outer most
    of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to
    the building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty. It is applause
    with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the
    length of the hallway.

    A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier
    in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is
    the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his
    wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private,
    or perhaps a private first class.

    Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod
    as they applaud, soldier to soldier.

    Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the
    hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps
    in private guilt for not having shared in the burden. Yet.

    Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the
    wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I
    think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier's
    chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel. Behind him, and
    stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of his peers, each
    private, corporal, or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade

    11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and
    I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. My hands
    hurt. Please! Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after
    soldier has come down this hallway - 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come
    with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30
    solid hearts.

    They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for
    a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the
    generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their
    chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this
    hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes
    and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a
    couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.

    There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing
    her 19-year-old husband's wheelchair and not quite understanding why her
    husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who
    had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who
    have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for
    the emotion given on their son's behalf. No man in that hallway, walking
    or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks.
    An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the
    officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the

    These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our
    brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every
    single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.

    Did you know that? The media hasn't yet told the story. And probably
    never will.

    John Nakamura
    Senior Systems Analyst
    IMCOM-NE-OPD/Cobham Analytic Solutions
    DSN 680-3795 COM 757-788-3795


  2. #2
    Sep 2006
    134 times
    Banner Finds (1)

    Re: Friday Morning At The Pentagon

    Thanks for posting.

  3. #3
    Aug 2008
    Edmond, OK
    MineLab e-Trac, Garrett Ace250, SunRay X-1, ProPointer

    Re: Friday Morning At The Pentagon

    Semper Fi!



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