Pentagon Play Time

Pentagon Play Time

Defense Department employees bring their children to work.

The Pentagon was invaded last week but, luckily, it was a peaceful invasion.

The invaders were children of Pentagon employees. They were visiting the largest office building in the world as a part of its 15th annual "Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work" Day.

Children ranging in age from a few months to the mid-teens roamed around the Pentagon’s inner courtyard followed by fatigue-clad mothers and fathers, where they engaged in a number of arts activities and took a tour of their parents’ offices.

"These parents are deployed all over the world," said Dallas Lawrence, a Defense Department spokesperson. "So this is a thank you party for the kids."

Many of the children seemed fascinated by the inner confines of the U.S. military headquarters but not all wanted to follow in their parents’ footsteps.

Rob Ryan, 10, attended the event with his mother Michelle who works in strategic planning for the Air Force.

The Alexandrian said that he wanted to grow up to be an Air Force pilot so he could fly F-35s. But his sister Kaitlin, 12, said she would rather be an anime artist.

"I’m just showing the kids around the office," their mother said.

Garnet Smith, a Defense Department project manager from Alexandria, brought his three children to show them "what [I] do 11, 12 hours a day."

Fairfax-resident Jim Hirst, a staff planner for the Joint Chiefs, brought his two daughters, 9-year-old Rylie and 11-year-old Julie, to see his new office. They said that they both wanted to be professional soccer players when they grew up.

Eric Smith also had soccer-playing aspirations. The Springfield resident attended the event with his father, Andy Smith, and was amazed at seeing a radio that can connect to anyone across the globe.

He said that if his soccer ambitions don’t work out he would like to open a candy shop.

Lenore and Ken Marentette of Springfield both work at the Pentagon. She is an air-traffic controller and he is a personnel officer. They brought her daughter Aimee, 7, to the event to see their respective offices.

"The military? I don’t know," said Aimee, when asked if she wanted to follow in her parents’ footsteps. "I want to be a restaurant lady."

Lei Jones, of Burke, brought her daughter, Nani, to the Pentagon.

"This is so fun," Nani said. But when asked if the event made her consider a career in the military, she said, "I want to be an astronaut."

Springfield resident Sjnecca Manuel is a civilian contractor who works on security issues. She brought her sons, Jasjnn and Quadyre, both 10, to the event because "They get tours of the building and they absolutely love it."

Quadyre, an aspiring firefighter, was especially enraptured when emergency medical technicians that were coincidentally dealing with a health emergency at the Pentagon stayed in the courtyard and let the children sit in the cab of their truck.

Even the toddlers got in on the act.

Brian Jones of Alexandria is a civilian networking contractor who brought his 18-month-old daughter Katia to the Pentagon.

"This is all for the kids," he said. "[But] it is [also] a day to spend with my daughter."

While Jones acknowledged that his daughter probably didn’t have a full understanding of where she is and what the place represents, "She’s having a good time," he said as Katia cheerfully ambled over to clutch her father’s leg.