91/11/2001: The Day That Changed America
Like New at the Pentagon: A Visit to the Pentagon
By Henderson Baker

Henderson Baker in the press briefing room at the Pentagon. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)

Meet Student Reporter Henderson Baker III
By Karen Fanning
Henderson Baker III's parents are in the Army — his dad's a Lieutenant Colonel and his mom's a Major. So you'd think the 14-year-old from Fredericksburg, Virginia, would be destined for military life, right? Wrong, says Henderson.

"I just never really cared for it," he says. "I like what they do, and it's really interesting. It's just not for me."

Instead, buoyed by a love of airplanes and a knack for debating, Henderson says he wants to be a lawyer or an aerospace engineer. When he's not hitting the books, Henderson hits the gridiron as a member of Chancellor High School's junior-varsity football team.

During his first-ever visit to the Pentagon as a Scholastic News reporter, Henderson got to drop in on his mom, Wanda, who works as a U.S. Army-Reserve personnel policy integrator. She's held the position since January, when she was hired to replace one of the several people in her office who was killed on September 11.

"The focus is on everyone healing, moving beyond what occurred on 9/11, but at the same time, taking time to continually remind the families of those who were lost that they are not forgotten," says Wanda.

Henderson admits that he worries about his mother's safety. After all, his family has already had a close call. His father was in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.

"My husband was in the Oklahoma City bombing," says Wanda. "He was on the fourth floor and fell down to the first floor and was able to get up and walk out. He was a survivor."

Henderson's visit to the Pentagon is one he will not soon forget. As he walked through the building's countless corridors, the high school freshman received a valuable history lesson about America's military might.

"I liked when we went through the hallways for each of the branches of the military," he says. "It was very interesting. I learned a lot."

Read more about Henderson's visit in Inside the Pentagon Post 9/11.
The Pentagon tour was very interesting, but the part that really stuck with me the most was the 9/11 Memorial. It is good to see that the Pentagon did something to honor the people that died on that tragic Tuesday. Something very important had to happen for the United States government to build a 9/11 Memorial because there is not even a World War II Memorial. As a part of the Memorial, books are used by visitors to record how they felt on 9/11, and to offer comfort to the families of those lost. Once the books are full of notes, they are sent to the families affected by 9/11.

As a student reporter for Scholastic News Online, I took a tour of the Pentagon to see firsthand the post-9/11 renovation efforts. Glenn Flood set up the tour. He is a former naval officer who is now head of the Pentagon press office. The purpose of the tour was twofold: to see the renovation progress, and to discuss the commemorative events planned by the Pentagon for the 1st anniversary of 9/11. Being a reporter is a lot of fun because I got to see parts of the Pentagon that normal tourists do not see, especially since there have not been any public tours since 9/11.

We toured the main concourse, the Hall of Heroes, the commander-in-chief corridor, the 9/11 impact area (which is almost completed renovated), the 9-11 memorial, and the correspondence corridor, which includes the Pentagon Press Room. After the tour, I interviewed Mr. Flood. The interview gave me a greater appreciation for news reporters. It's a whole lot harder than it seems.

I left the Pentagon that day with true respect for news reporters and a better understanding of what it means to be an American. The 9/11 Memorial left a lasting impression on me. I felt a certain empathy and connection with the families because of my experience with my dad during the Oklahoma City bombing. Just as my dad survived Oklahoma City, Americans will survive and heal from the devastation of that tragic Tuesday, which will be forever etched in the minds of all Americans.

Read more about Workers at the Pentagon.