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At the Pentagon, Sept. 11 memories on sale, cheap

WASHINGTON – Just in time for the 9/11 anniversary weekend, Fort America, the Pentagon’s gift shop, has stocked up with paraphernalia to help visitors and workers honor the memories of those who died here. And it’s all on sale, cheap. 

To be fair, there’s always plenty of junk and schlock for sale at Fort America. It’s a gift shop, after all. But there’s a new level of tchotchke being reached this week, as thousands of workers in the building pause to commemorate the tragedy, and the lives lost, on that day 10 years ago.

You can buy T-shirts showing an eagle stamped on an overhead image of the Pentagon crossed by the World Trade Center’s twin towers. Regularly $13.95, but yours this week for $9.90. They’re made in Honduras.

You can buy a “9/11 Flag of Honor,” an American flag where the red and white stripes are filled in using the names of “those who perished in the terrorist attacks.” Just $21.95. 

You can buy a shiny silver Pentagon-shaped sticker featuring the twin towers for $6.95.

You can buy commemorative coins for the Pentagon Memorial. The small one is $9.95, the large one, about the size of your palm, is $60.

Fort America and several of the manufacturers of these items say on their websites a portion of their profits go to nonprofits for servicemembers and 9/11-related charities.

The Pentagon gift shop is like a college bookstore, a treasure trove of gaudy ties, mugs, hats, golf balls, cuff links, office desk statues of eagles, prints, and wall hangings all emblazoned with service logos. It all usually draws a polite chuckle from the building workers browsing the racks for a fun gift. 

Next to the simple “MARINES” workout shirts and “Top Gun” teddy bears in bomber jackets, you can by a child’s T-shirt that says “Someone in the Pentagon loves me.” It was made in Haiti.

There’s a huge selection of nice coffee mugs with military service logos, and gaudy coffee mugs, including ones that say: “IRAQ: Been there, done that!” It’s made in China.

The Pentagon is also home to thousands of contractors working dutifully in service to the nation. So there’s a bank of T-shirts for them too, made by the company 7.62 Design, and printed in the U.S. 

One shirt is a mock advertisement for an elixir called “Double Tap,” a reference to a sniper firing two quick shots to kill an enemy. The shirt reads, “Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice!” And, “Active ingredient: Lead. Common side effect: Death.” The doctor on the bottom says, “Provides immediate relief from terrorists, insurgents and foreign armies.” 

Another t-shirt says: “Have gun – Will travel,” with the banner, “Support your local contractor.” The motto is: “Spreading good will, one bullet at a time.”

 

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