The CIA Campus: A Walk Outside Headquarters
Where can you find a piece of the Berlin Wall and an A-12 OXCART reconnaissance aircraft? At the Central Intelligence Agency’s Headquarters in Northern Virginia. The beautiful, wooded campus of the CIA is home to these two pieces of history and more:
- the Berlin Wall Monument,
- an A-12 OXCART,
- the Nathan Hale Statue, and
- a Memorial Garden.
Berlin Wall Monument
The three sections of the Berlin Wall Monument were taken from Checkpoint Charlie at Potsdamer Platz in November 1989 when the wall came down. The Wall is located near the southwest entrance to OHB. It is oriented as it was in Berlin—the west side painted with graffiti and the east side whitewashed. The west side of the Wall is covered with graffiti that reflects the color, hope and optimism of the West itself. In stark contrast, the east side of the Wall is plan and devoid of color and life.
In developing this monument, the CIA Fine Arts Commission decided on five precepts for its placement:
- pedestrian orientation,
- a sense of the Wall as an obstacle,
- an “unromantic presentation,” and
- a measure of contemplation.
The Wall is located in the middle of a path so that it must be confronted directly—just as it was for nearly three decades by the citizens of Berlin. On both sides of the Wall is a bench-height wall where employees can sit and view the three segments and think about their history.
The monument was dedicated on December 18, 1992.
Under the highly secret Project OXCART, CIA contracted with Lockheed to produce the A-12 supersonic reconnaissance aircraft as the successor to the U-2. Lockheed began its design in 1959 and achieved full operational readiness by November 1965. During testing, the A-12 reached a speed of Mach 3.2 at an altitude of 90,000 feet. The A-12 was used in only 29 missions before it was replace by another aircraft.
The A-12 on display at CIA Headquarters—eighth in production of the 15 A-12s built—was the first of the operational fleet to be certified for Mach 3. It is located in the north parking lot. The A-12 OXCART was dedicated on September 19, 2007, during the Agency’s 60th anniversary celebration.
Nathan Hale Statue
The statue of Nathan Hale stands guard between the CIA Auditorium (also known as the Bubble) and the Original Headquarters Building (OHB). It serves as a constant reminder to CIA employees of the duties and sacrifices of an intelligence officer.
Hale was a captain in George Washington’s Army during the Revolutionary War. He volunteered to collect information on British forces stationed on Long Island. On his first and only mission, he was caught by the British, found guilty of espionage, and executed on September 22, 1776. Hale was the first American executed for spying on behalf of his country. The statue is meant to capture Hale moments before his execution—a 21-year-old man prepared to meet his death for honor and country, hands and feet bound, face resolute, and eyes on the horizon.
His last words, “I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country,” circle the base of the statue.
The life-size statue is based on nothing more than a written description of Hale; there is no known portrait of him.
The garden is a blend of natural and landscaped plantings amid stone outcroppings from which a cascade of water continuously falls into a large fishpond. The memorial provides a tranquil and reflective place for Agency employees.
The words, “In remembrance of those whose unheralded efforts served a grateful nation,” are cast in a brass plaque set in fieldstone to ensure the living will not forget the fallen.
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