Flashback: An Independence Day to Remember

posted at 7:46 am on July 4, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

I originally wrote this post for Independence Day 2005 on Captain’s Quarters, on my first visit to Washington, DC. 

When I first announced my trip to Washington, DC, I received many kind offers from local readers for assistance and pointers. One of the kindest offers came from a CQ reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, who gave me and my family a chance to tour the Pentagon on July 4th. Needless to say, we gratefully accepted this offer, and early this morning we started out our celebration of Independence Day by meeting him for the tour.

He started us off in the west wing, the portion of the building that terrorists attacked on 9/11. We could not take pictures of the outside, but remarkably, we had no trouble taking pictures of the interior. The Pentagon has a beautiful memorial at Ground Zero for the victims of 9/11. (More pictures of the memorial and other experiences will be found below.)

Our friend also showed us the direction that the plane took in hitting the Pentagon, from the window just below the entry point. It came in just over the Sheraton hotel in the background, clipping a light pole, bounced off the freeway, killing a cab driver, and hit just short of the Pentagon. This time sequence explains why the Pentagon took less damage than one might expect; the bounce took off some of the momentum and fuel before the plane hit the building, meaning that the impact did not travel as deeply and the fire did not burn as hot.

Notice the foreground construction work. The Pentagon is building a memorial for 9/11 which will be completed soon, and will sit directly in front of the impact spot. Funding comes from private sources, and if you want to contribute, please go to this website.

We spent time in other areas of the Pentagon as well. For those of us who have worked in the defense industry, a visit to the Pentagon comes as quite an eye-opener. First, the renovations to the interior make the place quite pleasant — nothing like the function-only military that us old-timers would expect. The military and civilian staffers have a mall-style food court, numerous business such as banks and health clinics, and much more inside the world’s largest office building for their convenience. The newer areas are especially well designed, and some of the many hallways have decor themes that teach history and give the place a distinctive flavor.

Being a military facility, of course, it didn’t take long for us to find something that struck fear into our very hearts. For instance, while everyone else was on holiday, look who got left in charge of press relations:

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

All kidding aside, this tour deeply impressed our entire family. Not only did the Pentagon remind us of the sacrifice of our fellow citizens, both military and civilian, but it also demonstrated the kind of country in which we live. Number the countries that allow their citizens to walk around taking pictures of their most central military planning facility for their enjoyment and remembrances, and I’ll bet you have fingers left over. This lesson came on the perfect day, and I will be forever grateful to the gentleman who gave up his holiday morning to escort us through the Pentagon. He will remain anonymous to my readers at his very understandable request, but rest assured he will be long remembered by us.

Breaking on Hot Air


Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.


Trackback URL


Goodmorning America,and good morning to all Hot/Air
crew members:

Thank-you for being Leader Of The Free World,

Happy, INDEPENDENCE DAY, JULY,4TH, and I toast
you to Two Hundred and Thirty-Two years
of a FREEDOM you have brought to the world.

canopfor on July 4, 2008 at 7:59 AM

I offer up the statement made by John Adams when the local Independence Day organizers asked him to make a speech. He was ill and would die on that July 4th, 1826. He declined to speak. They asked for a written speech. He declined. They then asked for just a statement. He agreed. The statement was “Independence forever”. Ditto here.

JonRoss on July 4, 2008 at 8:00 AM

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Afraid? Someone should’ve put your butt in charge of press relations a long time ago.

All kidding aside, wonderful story Cap’n. Google’s marking the holiday, I see Disney Channel is going all-out, and then there’s this:

BAGHDAD – How are you spending your 4th of July holiday? While most Americans probably slept, 1,215 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines raised their right hands and committed to a combined 5,500 years of additional service during the largest reenlistment ceremony in the history of the American military. Beneath a large American flag which dwarfed even the enormous chandelier that Saddam Hussein had built for the Al Faw Palace, members of all services, representing all 50 states took the oath administered by Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq.

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

amerpundit on July 4, 2008 at 8:00 AM

Thanks, Ed.
Happy Independence Day to everyone!

God bless you all.

artlover on July 4, 2008 at 8:05 AM

canopfor on July 4, 2008 at 7:59 AM

Hear! Hear! Happy Independence Day to all. I pray the entire world will some day enjoy and celebrate their freedom as we do, here in the Good Old USA!

Zorro on July 4, 2008 at 8:19 AM

Happy Birthday Captain from an American abroad.
Happy Birthday to The Prettiest Lady

james hooker on July 4, 2008 at 8:21 AM

I think Crunchie told the story best.

Dawnsblood on July 4, 2008 at 8:21 AM

Happy Independence Day Guys

Keep on rockin’

(From India)

Gaurav on July 4, 2008 at 8:24 AM

I Got Your Back

I am a small and precious child,
my dad’s been sent to fight.
The only place I’ll see his face,
is in my dreams at night.
He will be gone too many days
for my young mind to keep track.
I may be sad, but I am proud.
My daddy’s got your back.

I am a caring mother.
My son has gone to war.
My mind is filled with worries
that I have never known before.
Everyday I try to keep
my thoughts from turning black.
I may be scared, but I am proud.
My son has got your back.

I am a strong and loving wife,
with a husband soon to go.
There are times I’m terrified
in a way most never know.
I bite my lip, and force a smile
as I watch my husband pack.
My heart may break,
but I am proud.
My husband has got your back.

I am a soldier, serving
proudly, standing tall.
I fight for freedom, yours and mine
by answering this call.
I do my job while knowing,
the thanks it sometimes lacks.
Say a prayer that I’ll come home
and remember who’s got your back.

-Autumn Parker

Limerick on July 4, 2008 at 8:25 AM


Zorro on July 4,2008 at 8:19AM.

Zorro: English gentleman,english accent,nose elavated
60 degrees,and he quotes,

Here,Here, Bloody right!Haha————:) :).

canopfor on July 4, 2008 at 8:31 AM

I am SO jealous. :-)

Happy Independence Day!

cannonball on July 4, 2008 at 8:44 AM

Rain or shine, there will be steaks on the grill this evening! Enjoy the parades, ball games, family time.

Pray for our troops at the front and their families. Thank God for the Freedoms He has showered upon us.

Zorro on July 4, 2008 at 8:52 AM

Happy Independence Day, Ed. Let’s cherish our freedom while we can. We’re in for a bumpy ride:

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., asked Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to look into what speed limit would provide optimum gasoline efficiency given current technology. He said he wants to know if the administration might support efforts in Congress to require a lower speed limit…

Warner cited studies that showed the 55 mph speed limit saved 167,000 barrels of oil a day, or 2 percent of the country’s highway fuel consumption, while avoiding up to 4,000 traffic deaths a year…

Warner asked the department to determine at what speeds vehicles would be most fuel efficient, how much fuel savings would be achieved, and whether it would be reasonable to assume there would be a reduction in prices at the pump if the speed limit were lowered.

Buy Danish on July 4, 2008 at 8:53 AM

Happy Birthday America!

I would like to quote the title of a song from Team America but I’m guessing it would end up being a bunch of asterisks and ampersands after I type it. :)

MannyT-vA on July 4, 2008 at 8:55 AM

Happy Independence Day, people.

I would suggest that at some point during this celebration of our country that all of you pause for a moment and give thanks to those who made this day possible.

irongrampa on July 4, 2008 at 9:01 AM

Autumn Parker.

Limerick on July 4,2008 at 8:25AM.

Limerick: The first verse of the poem,reminds me of the
move “Green Berets”,where at the end,the little
Vietnamese boy was going to America,but the
American soldier(KIA),and how John Wayne comforts
the little boy at the end!


canopfor on July 4, 2008 at 9:15 AM

With humility and concern, I posit a Declaration of Independence for our times…

Take great care; my dear citizens !

J_Gocht on July 4, 2008 at 9:17 AM

Independence Forever!
Happy Today!

Irongrampa, yes. The finest Americans were the first who sacrificed all and established our most wonderful Constitutional government not only for themselves, but for all of their posterity and for us! Each subsequent generation recognized the true story of the deprivations that our Continental Army suffered at all times during our Revolution, and that our founding fathers committed to at the peril of their very lives and fortunes. Each subsequent generation honored their tradition by measuring up to do THEIR BEST in gratitude to our founding fathers. This tradition was a national trait through WWII into 1950 that weathered us through very stormy times. This tradition must not be sabotaged or revised because it makes marxists uncomfortable, or twisted to substantiate only fascists but not patriots to our founding fathers’ cause.

Long live the memory of our Founding Fathers, very real men who together accomplished a very real miracle by the grace of Providence by establishing America!

maverick muse on July 4, 2008 at 9:21 AM

Yes, but did he take you to see the purple water fountain?

flipflop on July 4, 2008 at 9:21 AM

Cool! Have a great Independence Day America!

I for one will never forget the footage of the Sec Def running around in his suit, carrying stretchers, running TOWARDS the Pentagon on Sept 11th. What a country!

saus on July 4, 2008 at 9:27 AM

God Bless America.

hillbillyjim on July 4, 2008 at 9:33 AM

Thank you for wishing us a happy Independence Day rather than what’s usually said–happy Fourth of July. I wonder if the latter greeting is being perpetrated on us by those who want us to forget our history of breaking free from a big-gov’t tyranny…or is it because “independence” has too many syllables for the average product of our educational system?

jgapinoy on July 4, 2008 at 9:45 AM

J_Gocht at 9:17AM

BDS doesn’t take a holiday off, does it?

jgapinoy on July 4, 2008 at 9:48 AM

Thank you God for the blessings of liberty. May we use them for your glory.

Happy Independence day, y’all.

TexasDan on July 4, 2008 at 9:56 AM

As fitting today as then:

Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

They tell us, sir, that we are weak — unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable — and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

TugboatPhil on July 4, 2008 at 10:30 AM

I would suggest that at some point during this celebration of our country that all of you pause for a moment and give thanks to those who made this day possible.

irongrampa on July 4, 2008 at 9:01 AM

And let’s also say a prayer for those in the Pentagon who lost their lives on 9/11.

Oh, and take a hike, J_Gocht.

Del Dolemonte on July 4, 2008 at 10:55 AM

J_Gocht on July 4, 2008 at 9:17 AM

Go back to France baby.

Texyank on July 4, 2008 at 11:17 AM

[J_Gocht on July 4, 2008 at 9:17 AM]

Pretty good rabble-rousing effort on the vid. It seemed to have lots of phrases and words from bygone eras and it felt at times as though I could hear various voices down through history.


Happy Independence Day everyone here and elsewhere.

On this anniversary of each and everyone’s Independence and our decision to collectively ensure it, I’d like to thank all, who, since the last one, have contributed to the betterment of this fine Republic by raising their voices in support or dissent. And that thanks goes alike to all those fine patriots who agreed with me as well as those dirty rotten traitors who didn’t, those who not only did so with deliberation but also the ranting lunatics, the ones who could clearly and astutely voice their opinions, and the ones who couldn’t talk their way out of a paper bag; to those who are right and those who are wrong.

To Marxist Barack, Shamnesty John, Incomprehensible Bob, Perpetually Crazy Ralph and the others who are competing this election year for the honor of dragging me kicking and screaming in ways you’ll never persuade me to go, I thank you this day for your service to our country.

Say a prayer or don’t, bow your head or don’t, see the parade or don’t, cook on the grill or don’t, eat a nice big burg or a veggie salad, um or don’t, but, and it’s only a suggestion, recognize that we are always right to some degree, whether 100% or 1% and either at the right or wrong time, and together, we temper one another as a result of being the greatest cacophony of interests bound by one set of ideals that a people can be expected to produce. Oh and do hang out the flag. Lapel pins are optional, um, or not.

And a last nod to our admirers and well-wishers abroad. Without qualification this day, wishing you were here.

Back to the regular program of a few lone voices crying in a wilderness of babble tomorrow.

Dusty on July 4, 2008 at 11:42 AM

Say a prayer that I’ll come home
and remember who’s got your back.

-Autumn Parker

Limerick on July 4, 2008 at 8:25 AM

Damn right. Many thanks to our soldiers and their families.

HotAirJosef on July 4, 2008 at 12:02 PM

Happy 4th To All, And remember the Troops.

Texyank on July 4, 2008 at 12:16 PM

Happy Fourth to all of us.

THANK YOU to our men and women who served in our Armed Forces for making this holiday possible and for keeping us free and Independent.

originalpechanga on July 4, 2008 at 12:40 PM

Happy Independence Da ! Thanks to ALL who have Supported and Defended our USA. To the Most Awesome Military ever Fielded, my heart-felt THANK YOU. To my Brother Vets, a tip of a cold one to you! Don’t blow any fingers off! :-)
A Proud parent of a SOLDIER
GOD bless our TROOPS! George Bush Too! and Dick Cheny!!

Rick554 on July 4, 2008 at 12:54 PM

Pentagon and the military has a 9/11 memorial.

New York City, watched over by the NY Times, has a hole in the ground.

The NY 9/11 memorial is a national thing. It should be taken away from the pols and pricks in NY and given to someone who can make something happen. I’m tired of everyone giving their opinion, being anti-American sticks, and trying to protect Manhattan’s environment over everything else.

New York – the city and the state – should be ashamed of itself.

Although, now that I think about it, the Muslim crescent memorial for the crashed plane in Pennsylvania is even *more* shameful.


NahnCee on July 4, 2008 at 1:01 PM

Happy Independence Day All! Happy 232nd Birthday USA.

xplodeit on July 4, 2008 at 1:47 PM

Let Freedom Reign…

Kaptain Amerika on July 4, 2008 at 2:32 PM

Wow, that was great, Ed! Thanks for sharing!

It came in just over the Sheraton hotel in the background, clipping a light pole, bounced off the freeway, killing a cab driver, and hit just short of the Pentagon.

I never knew that! All this time, this is the first I’ve heard of it.

Pentagon and the military has a 9/11 memorial. New York City … has a hole in the ground. – Nancy

Exactly what I was thinkin’ too.

Tony737 on July 4, 2008 at 3:22 PM

Happy 4th everybody

Mofugger on July 4, 2008 at 3:31 PM

I took my brother and a friend for a tour of the Pentagon, where I worked, the sunday before 9/ll. As we were leaving the River entrance, there was a lone man walking up the steps. He turned out to be Donald Rumsfeld. As soon as he saw us, he said, “Hello, gents.” I explained to my guests later that I had arranged the introduction for their benefit but they didn’t seem to believe me. Well, I was in the Pentagon when the plane hit and that’s something I’ll never forget.

NNtrancer on July 4, 2008 at 3:59 PM

I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!
TugboatPhil on July 4, 2008 at 10:30 AM

Great quote for a great day. I have read the entire speech a hundred times. And you have to read the entire speech to its conclusion to get the impact of this last sentence. But the last sentence can stand on its on. Like the Declaration its self. Read it from beginning to end without pausing and you can feel the passion and determination of the Founders.

JonRoss on July 4, 2008 at 4:20 PM

A very Happy 4th to all of you. May your steaks be rare and your beers cold.

To our troops: We’re think of all of you today. Thank you. You make all of this possible.

trigon on July 4, 2008 at 4:43 PM

Dear J Gocht,

I’d like to say that you have all the charm and utility of ants at a picnic.

That would be slandering ants, though. Ants have a place in the scheme of things.

You, however, are both worthless and unwelcome.

Seek professional help.

trigon on July 4, 2008 at 4:49 PM

Dear J Gocht,

I’d like to say that you have all the charm and utility of ants at a picnic.

That would be slandering ants, though. Ants have a place in the scheme of things.

You, however, are both worthless and unwelcome.

Seek professional help.


Actually, I see Gocht as Elmer Fudd.

In the 1953 short “Ant Pasted”, Fudd has a 4th of July picnic, and decides to terrorize the ants with firecrackers.

The ants decide to fight back, and Elmer ends up getting blown sky high.

Del Dolemonte on July 4, 2008 at 7:06 PM

Happy Birthday to America and all her citizens.

Hog Wild on July 4, 2008 at 9:40 PM

JonRoss on July 4, 2008 at 4:20 PM

It takes the last three lines to give me the impact of that speech. And I always shudder to remember that those “chains and slavery” are no longer foreign.
I have to say that I do not really enjoy the 4th, because I always re-read the DoI on that day and am horrified at the extent and the pace of its applicability today.

God Bless America!

ss396 on July 5, 2008 at 9:58 AM