By Kelly Tafoya & Zachary Keller
We found out that we were receiving a tour of the West Wing of the White House three blocks before we got there. Our professor introduced us to Zach Nunn, the Director of Cyber Security for the National Security at the White House, who also happened to be a Drake alumnus. He guided us through the West Wing where he shared stories of each picture and room. Here are the ten facts and observations that we found most interesting:
1) The West Wing is almost entirely above ground, even the situation room.
2) The West Wing is the entrance that the President likes to be dropped off the most.
3) The President gets to decorate the West Wing with a wide variety of artwork from the Smithsonian Museum. Currently, the Smithsonian only displays 15% of its artwork, which means the President can choose anything from the remaining 85%.
4) There is a small restaurant in the West Wing that is operated by the Navy.
5) There are actually three situation rooms, not one.
6) The President’s chair sits slightly higher than every other chair in the rooms and features a plaque on the back.
7) There are fresh apples in the Oval Office that the First Lady encourages everyone to eat.
8) The offices and rooms are much smaller than one would expect. High ranking officials give up large offices in order to be less than 20 steps from the President. In fact, the Chief Counterterrorism Advisor works in a dorm-sized room with 5 assistants.
9) The President’s photographer, Pete Souza, has his office in a broom closet.
10) The military personnel outside the exit of the West Wing stands on an electronic mat that vibrates to alert him when to open the door and salute the President. This looks very professional to the media.
It was a remarkable tour and definitely a unique opportunity. Stay posted for our next White House tour with Zach and the entire group on Tuesday.