CLINTON'S PENTAGON SHRINE



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                  CLINTON'S PENTAGON SHRINE
                              
                     By William H. Rees
                              
On August 9, 1996, I visited a most unusual shrine, one of
incredible contrast.  My curiosity was prompted by an
article titled "Clinton enshrined in the Pentagon" by
Douglas MacKinnon and published in the March 23, 1996, issue
of The Washington Times.  (That's the Washington, D.C.,
publisher of lots of news that the New York Times and the
Washington Post deem not fit to print.)

MacKinnon's story says that in the Pentagon there is a
Commander in Chief's Corridor, where a collection of large
photos of the President is on display.  The article says
"... there are some in the Pentagon who dislike this hallway
so much they take the extra time to walk around it, rather
than through it."

This assertion is certainly believable.  Nearly everyone who
works in the Pentagon has probably heard stories to the
effect that Bill Clinton "loathed the military," that a
White House staffer told a uniformed officer, "We don't like
uniforms over here," and that Hillary Clinton once ordered
two uniformed officers to help serve refreshments at a
party.

But MacKinnon's story was partly wrong.  There is no
Commander in Chief's Corridor.  There is a Commander in
Chief's wall on one side of a corridor and a Heroes wall on
the other.  In fact, the Pentagon's tour guide calls this
corridor the Hall of Heroes.  When I considered that
arrangement I wondered if our C in C, by close association
with the hero pictures, hoped to gain credibility and
political power from them. Careful examination of the
Pentagon's many interesting exhibits helped me answer that
question.

The Pentagon building has five floors, each floor has five
rings, and each ring has five sides.  Innermost on each
floor is the A ring.  Each of its five inner walls is about
100 yards long and has 12 windows. Radiating outward from
each corner of the A ring are two numbered corridors.  Thus,
there are 10 numbered corridors.  Each ring corridor is
identified by the numbers of its adjacent numbered
corridors.

Corridor A2-3 on Floor 3 has empty walls.  Corridor A4-5
displays paintings of 65 Secretaries of War.  Corridor A6-7
displays paintings of 15 Secretaries of the Army.  Corridor
A8-9 displays paintings of the Secretaries of Defense (after
1947).  Corridor A10-1, perhaps the most attractive corridor
in the Pentagon, includes the Commander in Chief's wall and
the Heroes wall.

On the left end of the Heroes wall is an exhibit of three
sections of the dismantled Berlin Wall, covered with West
Berliner's graffiti art. One art item honors an East
Berliner killed while trying to escape over the Wall.

Next is an "Iron Curtain, New Birth of Freedom" exhibit, on
loan from the Hungarian Army's War History Museum.  This
exhibit begins with descriptions of the border security
measures of 1946, moves on to the
1956 "Revolution War of Independence," and then to the
postwar era of renewed totalitarianism.  In 1965, a
"Technical Blockade" of "Electric Signal Systems" replaced
the earlier border security system.  (The new system
reportedly produced 8,000 to 12,000 security alerts per
year, of which about 99.98 percent were false alarms.  This
system was deactivated in 1990, probably with a great sigh
of relief.)

The rest of corridor A10-1's outside wall holds 14 paintings
commemorating the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Armed
Forces.  These paintings depict great heroism and triumph:
the Patriot landing on March 3, 1776, at New Providence,
R.I.; the battle of Yorktown; the burning of the frigate
Philadelphia (captured by the Barbary pirates); the battle
of Lake Erie; the gaining of the crest of Missionary Ridge
by Union troops who charged contrary to orders and vaulted
Gen. Grant to the top; the battle of Mobile Bay; the battle
of Manila Bay; World War I convoys; Belleau Wood; Pearl
Harbor; Midway; the "big week" air bombardment of Germany;
the Inchon landing in Korea; and the siege at Khe Sanh.

Corridor A10-1's inside wall is home to 33 pictures of our
Commander in Chief, arranged as three large photographs
between each of 11 pairs of windows.  A few pictures show
our C in C associating with real heroes.

One picture shows a gray-haired fellow wearing World War II
combat fatigues, a red beret, a Combat Infantry Badge, jump
wings, and a 509th Airborne Regiment patch.  Presumably he
jumped into Normandy on D-Day.

Another picture shows two gray-haired ladies wearing
uniforms with WASP (Women's Air Service Pilots of World War
II) insignia and pilot's wings. These ladies are heroes.

There is also a picture of our C in C wearing a "SEAL Team"
T-shirt and jogging with presumed Navy SEALs, very tough
guys.  Of the 11 joggers shown, eight are soaked with
perspiration and most of the eight seem to be in some
distress.  The three remaining joggers are perspiring only
slightly and they seem to be enjoying themselves.  Perhaps
these three are genuine SEALs and thus potential heroes.

But none of the other C in C pictures have any apparent
relationship to heroism.

About 10 C in C pictures are associated with our IFFOR
Bosnia troops. In one picture, taken in a tent in Hungary,
our C in C appears to be addressing about 200 GIs, about
half of whom in the front row are female.  In another photo,
our C in C is addressing troops but the troops are out of
focus.  In two or three photos our C in C wears a leather
jacket bearing the 1st Armored Division patch.

But some C in C pictures, given the serious nature of those
on the opposite wall, are ludicrous.  In one photo, an
enlisted USAF honor guard salutes our C in C as he walks to
the Air Force One aircraft. Another photo shows our C in C
speaking to a group of sailors but the sailors are blurred.
One photo shows our C in C speaking, with his wife watching
approvingly, with no context except the out-of-focus top of
a ship's mast in the background.  Still another picture
shows our C in C talking to six members of his Marine guard,
with an out-of-focus naval vessel in the distant background.

The most enigmatic photograph shows a laughing Bill Clinton
between two unidentifiable opaque shapes.  This picture,
which has no context and no troops, appears to be promotion
of Bill Clinton as an individual. American military
philosophy has always held that cult of personality has no
place in our armed forces, and that individuals must
sometimes sacrifice themselves to support the organization's
mission.

One wall of Pentagon corridor A10-1 displays great ideals,
patriotism,
heroism, and sacrifice, while the other wall portrays Bill
Clinton. It's an incredible contrast.
The Clinton display should be in corridor A2-3, which is
empty.  There the display would face a blank wall, from
which Bill Clinton could never derive credibility or
political power.
                             END

William H. Rees is a retired military pilot, attorney,
farmer, and an occasional writer on military subjects.  He
has been published internationally in several languages.

Copyright 1996 by Zenger News Service.  All rights reserved. Through December 
1996, this article may be reproduced digitally for non-commercial purposes 
without payment to ZNS, provided that all of the material between and including 
the two groups of five virgules (/////) is reproduced without modification.  For
information on one-time commercial reproduction rights, please contact ZNS, P.O. 
Box 98950, Seattle, WA 98198 USA. Phone 206-874-2704.  Email: zns@interserv.com. 
Internet web site: http://www.zns.com.  Fax 206-815-0265.  Reference ZS961005, 
1144 words. 14 Oct 96.  0600 PDT.  /////
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      Zenger News Service, PO Box 98950, Seattle, WA  98198
Phone 206-874-2704, fax 206-815-0265, email zns@interserv.com, and
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