A Somber 100th Anniversary for the Magazine.

Author:Magnuson, Stew

Last year, the National Defense Industrial Association celebrated its 100th anniversary with a series of events culminating in a gala dinner in October where National Defense distributed its centennial issue.

For the magazine, that issue was a bit premature as Ordnance Magazine--as it was called in its first decades--debuted in July 1920. As of this month, National Defense is 100 years old.

Putting together the content for the centennial issue was one of the great pleasures of my career. I spent hours going through the back issues reading articles written by my predecessors --especially the 50th anniversary issue--to glean clues on what it was like serving as the editor in chief of this magazine in the past.

So maybe some day, for NDIA's sesquicentennial, or dare we dream, its bicentennial, some version of myself will dig up this issue to see what the defense world was like in the summer of 2020.

Let me tell you future self: it sucks.

As I write this--in my basement--not in my office--we are experiencing what will inevitably be a major chapter in U.S. history: "the Great Pandemic of 2020." Or maybe it will be called the "COVID-19 Pandemic." I prefer the "Wuhan Virus."

The NDIA office is closed. Only a few of us have special permission to go in. I do so for a week once a month to put the magazine together in its final stages before it goes to print.

The streets as I drive in to work, normally jam packed with commuters, are empty. I see four or five coworkers when I go in at most. With one exception, I haven't seen my staff in two months.

The normally bustling Courthouse neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, where the office is located is a ghost town. Most of the restaurant workers who serve us during lunch have lost their jobs.

As did everyone at the plant where the magazine was printed for 100 years. NDIA and National Defense underwent several name changes in its first century--as did the printer on Byrdhill Road in Richmond, Virginia. Its latest corporate owner shut its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the souring economy.

Surely NDIA had no longer business relationship than the one with the magazine's printer. The June 2020 issue was the final one printed there, falling just short of the anniversary. Some 184 workers lost their jobs there.

Like many professionals whose offices are shuttered and are working from home, I'm pulling double duty "teaching" my children in the mornings. I put "teaching" in quotes because I wouldn't call...

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