Feature   Know Your Military

Pentagon Police Host Virtual Tour for Elementary Students

Oct. 14, 2020

The Pentagon Police pride themselves on protecting those who protect our nation. Now, during the pandemic, they're also reaching out to those who are the future of our nation. 

A Pentagon police officer holds up a tablet in front of a building entrance, where a fellow police officer stands.
Visitor Entrance
Pentagon Police Officer Christopher Nation shows Hugh Mercer Elementary School students the Pentagon Visitor Entrance during a virtual tour, Oct. 7, 2020. Officer Omar Vieraclass is standing post.
Photo By: Courtesy Pentagon Force Protection Agency
VIRIN: 201007-D-ZZ999-5826R

On Oct. 7, Pentagon Police Officer Christopher Nation led students from Hugh Mercer Elementary School in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on a virtual tour of the Pentagon reservation.

For Nation, he has a personal relationship with the school and it was a way to help students adversely affected by the pandemic and give back to the community. In the spring, Nation and some colleagues helped the school raise money to continue funding a food truck hired to feed children whose families were struggling over the summer months. 

"This was a great opportunity for our police officers to connect with schoolchildren and their community and show them what we do here," PFPA Acting Director Daniel Walsh said. "I am really proud of the job our officers do in keeping the Pentagon safe."

They've really been through a lot because of the pandemic ... Seeing smiles on their face, seeing them laugh — that makes it all worthwhile."
Pentagon Police Officer Christopher Nation

The tour was a hit for everyone. For the teachers, it was a way to liven and enrich their students' education at a time when onsite classroom learning has been halted because of COVID-19. For the students, it was a chance to learn about the nation's preeminent military command center.

But most of all, for the first-graders in attendance via Zoom, it was a chance to see the Pentagon Police K-9s — or at least one K-9, Reisja, a 9-year-old Belgian Malinois — in action.

A police canine lies in a grassy field with her mouth open.
Break Time
Pentagon Police K-9 Reisja rests after an afternoon of training and ball-fetching at her workplace, Oct. 7, 2020.
Photo By: Courtesy Pentagon Force Protection Agency
VIRIN: 201007-D-ZZ999-5898Z

"The kids all love the dogs, and that's why they're part of the tour," Nation said. "We want it to be fun, memorable and educational. At a time of crisis like this, we all need to do our part and lend a hand."

The virtual tour was the latest in a series that Hugh Mercer Elementary has conducted in lieu of onsite field trips since those are no longer allowed because of COVID-19.

"We've had a realtor, a dental hygienist, a rock band and, now, Officer Nation and the Pentagon Police," Jodi Ehlen, a first-grade teacher at the school, said. "Especially with everything that's going on today, we think it's important that our kids get to see a positive view of the police."

Officer Nation Zoomed in via iPad, while more than 170 students watched the virtual tour, which highlighted the public outdoor areas because photography is not allowed in most areas of the Pentagon. 

A Pentagon police, shown from behind, stands and holds up a tablet at the top of an escalator.
Escalator View
The Pentagon Metro escalator lead underground, where trains await commuters coming to and from the Pentagon.
Photo By: Courtesy Pentagon Force Protection Agency
VIRIN: 201007-D-ZZ999-5831

The virtual tour began at the Pentagon Memorial and included the Pentagon Metro and bus terminal, which are used by thousands of commuters each day. Then, they got to see the Pentagon parade field, which overlooks the U.S. Capitol, the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument and offered a spectacular and majestic view for the Zoomed-in students. The kids were even interested to hear there's a McDonald's inside the building! 

When the virtual tour ended, Officer Nation, K-9 Cpl. Keith Wilson and Sgt. William Kraft took questions from the students.

Not surprisingly, most of the questions concerned the dogs: "What do you do if they run away?" one first-grader earnestly asked. The officer's answer: "We make sure the K-9s are well-trained so they don't run away!"

A Pentagon Force Protection Agency officer holds up a tablet while standing with a view of the Washington, D.C., skyline.
Monument View
The Pentagon parade field offers a view of the Jefferson Memorial, left, and the U.S. Capitol dome, Oct. 7, 2020. The Washington Monument is not visible in this photograph, but it can also be seen from the field.
Photo By: Courtesy Pentagon Force Protection Agency
VIRIN: 201007-D-ZZ999-5860R

"We enjoyed doing this, and I think it went well," Nation said of the tour, which lasted a little more than an hour. "The kids learned something, and they seemed to have a good time."

"They've really been through a lot because of the pandemic," he added. "They don't understand what's going on. Seeing smiles on their face, seeing them laugh — that makes it all worthwhile."