Pentagon Daycare With the U.S. Marines

Did you all know about a daycare center in the PENTAGON?   Read this and then you will know all about it.   Things you do not hear about!   This is a little-known story from the Pentagon on 09/11/2001.

"During a visit with a fellow chaplain, who happened to be assigned to the Pentagon, I had a chance to hear a first-hand account of an incident that happened right after Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.   The chaplain told me what happened at a daycare Center near where the impact occurred.

This daycare had many children, including infants who were in heavy cribs.   The Center Director, looking at all the children they needed to evacuate, was in a panic over what they could do.   There were many children, mostly toddlers, as well as the infants that would need to be taken out with the cribs.   There was no time to try to bundle them into carriers and strollers.

Just then a young Marine came running into the center and asked what they needed.   After hearing what the Center Director was trying to do, he ran back out into the hallway and disappeared.

The Director thought, 'Well, here we are - on our own.'   But in about 2 minutes, the Marine returned with 40 other Marines in tow.   Each of them grabbed a crib with a child, and the rest started gathering up toddlers.

The Director and her staff then helped them take all the children out of the center and down toward a park on the Potomac near the Pentagon.

Once they got about 3/4 of a mile outside the building, the Marines stopped in the park, and then did a fabulous thing - they formed a circle with the cribs, which were quite sturdy and heavy, like the covered wagons in the Old West.   Inside this circle of cribs, they put the toddlers, to keep them from wandering off.   Outside this circle were the 40 Marines, forming a perimeter around the children and waiting for instructions.   There they remained until the parents could be notified and come get their children.

The Chaplain then said, "I don't think any of us saw or heard of this on any of the news stories of the day.   It was just an incredible story of those Marines responding willingly and quickly to a tactical problem that presented itself. - But would we have expected any less of them?"

"Most of us wonder if our lives can make any difference.   Marines don't have that problem."

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- WASHINGTON, July 14, 2004 -- With tens of thousands of American troops hunkered down on yearlong tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military is arguably not the most family-friendly employer these days. Now add this to the list that the Pentagon is closing its child care center.

Citing intelligence that the Pentagon is the second most likely target for a terrorist attack in the capital region after the White House, military officials want to shut the day care building next to the Pentagon by the fall. Officials said that they hoped to build a new center nearby but that it would not be finished until 2007.

Dozens of Pentagon parents are expressing outrage at the decision, which was announced on July 7, arguing that their day care center faced no greater risk of attack than those operated for Senate and House employees on Capitol Hill or centers at other federal agencies like the State Department and Central Intelligence Agency.

None of those sites plan to close, federal officials said.

Some parents said they suspected that the Pentagon appetite for additional parking, storage space or even a heliport was behind the decision, suspicions that Pentagon officials dismissed as scurrilous rumors.

''They want to put a helipad there,'' said Colleen Holland, an Air Force budget analyst whose 5-year-old, Patrick, has gone to the day care center for three years. ''There's no doubt in my mind they want to do something else with that property.''

At stake are the 140 or so coveted child care spots that parents say they have in some cases waited months or years to claim. The center, which opened in 1989 and is operated by a contractor, is a one-story concrete building about 200 feet from the southern end of the Pentagon.

It is on the opposite side of where American Airlines Flight 77 rammed into the building on Sept. 11, 2001. The center was briefly relocated after the attacks. It reopened a month later with increased security.

Behind a wood fence, sandboxes and playground equipment in cheery colors greet children from 6 weeks to 5 years old. The Pentagon police patrol outside. In closing the center, Pentagon officials said, they are only looking out for the children's safety, especially after the terrorist attacks in Madrid and new warnings of attacks by Al Qaeda in the United States, timed perhaps to coincide with the political conventions in Boston and New York.

And, of course, the events of Sept. 11 are never far from the minds of Pentagon workers.

''The Pentagon is a clearly a target in a general sense,'' the chief spokesman for the Defense Department, Lawrence Di Rita, told reporters, adding that department officials were merely prudently planning for ''what might you do differently in the wake of what we know has already happened once, and that is that we were attacked.''

According to a fact sheet prepared on July 8 for parents by the director of Washington Headquarters Services for the department, Howard G. Becker, ''The Pentagon is considered the second most attractive terrorist target in the Washington, D.C., area.''

When asked on Wednesday about the source for that, another spokesman, Glenn Flood, retracted the statement, saying it was incorrect.

''It shouldn't have been in there,'' Mr. Flood said. ''No one can own up to it.''

Officials acknowledged that they were stunned by the parents' response, which has drawn two northern Virginia congressmen, Representatives Tom Davis, a Republican, and James P. Moran, a Democrat, into the fray.

On Wednesday, senior officials met lawmakers and top aides to review their plans.

''It's curious, because after 9/11 the Pentagon told parents everything was O.K., we're not moving,'' Mr. Moran said in a telephone interview. ''Now all of a sudden, we have information that there could be a terrorist attack against the Pentagon between now and Election Day. If that's the case, let's get the kids out now.''

He added, ''I think they should reconsider.''

Some parents said the Pentagon's decision would leave them in a lurch for day care.

''I think it's baloney,'' said Laurie Altdorfer, a civilian Army analyst whose 2-year-old son, Jordan, celebrated his birthday at the center on Wednesday. ''As usual, people are hiding behind security issues. We're at no greater risk than any other day-care center in Washington.''


From the operetta "Babes in Toyland"

Words by Glenn MacDonough, 1903

Music by Victor Herbert, 1903

1. When you've grown up my dears,
And are as old as I,
You'll often ponder on the years
That roll so swiftly by, my dears,
That roll so swiftly by.
And of the many lands,
You will have journeyed through,
You'll oft recall
The best of all,
The land your childhood knew!
Your childhood knew.  Chorus

Toyland. Toyland.
Little girl and boy land.
While you dwell within it,
You are ever happy then.
Childhood’s joy-land.
Mystic merry Toyland,
Once you pass it’s borders,
You can never return again.

2. When you've grown up, my dears,
There comes a dreary day.
When 'mid the locks of black appears
The first pale gleam of gray, my dears,
The first pale gleam of gray.
Then of the past you'll dream
As gray-haired grown-ups do,
And seek once more
Its phantom shore,
The land your childhood knew!
Your childhood knew.  Chorus

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