The Pentagon has opened again for tours, more than two years after it last offered them. The tour guides are dedicated to informing the public about the many contributions of the country's servicemen and women.
Army Specialist Tyson Weichbrodt imparts the gravity and emotion of Sept. 11, 2001:
"It was at 9:37 in the morning, Sept. 11. Flight 77, a 757 under the control of terrorists, was deliberately crashed into the Pentagon. It killed all 59 people on board and 125 people working here at the building. Their names, in alphabetical order, are listed here...."
The America's Heroes Memorial is located where the plane crashed into the Pentagon, an essential stop on these tours, which recently reopened to the public to tours.
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'We want to impress on the public how seriously we've taken and remind them of the sobriety of that day," Specialist Weichbrodt said, "particularly for the younger generation, who was not born or perhaps very little. It's particularly impactful for them to understand what happened."
For Specialist Weichbrodt, sharing this defining moment in American history has personal meaning.
"It frames so much for me, that event, how I think of myself as an American, and it certainly contributed to my decision to join the military," he said.
Only the best in the building are selected to be tour guides. They have to go through an extensive process for which not even their military training could prepare them.
"So it was a 15-day process, 33 pages of scripts that we had to memorize verbatim, so every day we were learning about page and a half, I would say, front to back, of scripts," said Navy Seaman Ariana Diaz. "At the end of the process, you get three days to test out."
That final test involves giving your colleagues a tour. It is a distinct honor, one that Seaman Diaz considers a highlight of her time at the Pentagon.
Her favorite section before is dedicated to women in service.
"It wasn't until 1901 with the Army nurses' corps, and 1908 with the Navy nurses' corps, when women were officially allowed to serve, and that was just as nurses," Seaman Diaz said. "Today, we're allowed to serve in every position, that being on submarines, on battleships, things of that nature. Thanks to these women, they were kind of being pioneers for me, specifically women in service."
Now, Seaman Diaz is a role model herself.
"I'm the first woman in my family who served in the military. So being able to work here has definitely shown me what I can do for further generations," she said. "My nieces, I want them to be just as great, if not greater. Maybe one day, they'll be able to be the president or the secretary of defense."
That's just a fraction of what you'll see and learn on the entire guided tour.
Tours are offered Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. You must register online in advance.
For security reasons, you may not bring any electronics on the tour or take videos or photos. You also won't be able to store your electronics on-site, so remember to leave them behind. Prohibited devices include cell phones, smartwatches, tablets, laptops, gaming devices, cameras, storage devices/flash drives, scanners, headphones, virtual reality devices, transmitters and GPS devices.
Take the Metro, because parking is a challenge. And wear comfortable shoes, because you'll be walking about 1.5 miles during the tour.