December 20, 2008

The President In Person

January 20th, one month from today, the 2009 presidential inauguration will occur where Barack Obama will be sworn in as our 44th President of the United States. That is a monumental event that has great significance for our country. So on a much lighter note, I have to tell you about my recent experience with the current President of the United States!!!

Last week I flew to Texas to watch my baby brother (he's almost 13 years younger) graduate from Texas A&M (whoop!) The trip had been planned for quite some time, tickets bought and paid for, when A&M announced that the commencement speaker would be none other than President George W. Bush! I was thrilled at the thought of seeing a President in person, and even more so one still in office! I was REALLY looking forward to it, and it (He) did not disappoint.

Each graduate was allowed to invite 2 people to the convocation. They also had to submit the names early so that a background check could be done on each of us! Alex was sent this email that told us what to expect in terms of security:

The most important line to me was "no bags, no backpacks", so did that mean no CAMERAS?? We leaned to the side of "It's the President, probably no camera's allowed." We were wrong! We just couldn't bring the bags in. I had left my camera in the car, and yes I made my mom and brother wait while I went to get it. Hello, it's the President!!!

So this was the first place we sat down...

That's a reporter's camera, so I could either be on TV or get a picture of the President! So I moved!

Like I said, we found out a few weeks ago that President Bush would be the commencement speaker, but what we didn't find out until we received our programs was that his father, George H.W. Bush, would introduce him!!! And Barbara Bush would introduce her husband. Here they are coming in...

When they were constructing Reed Auditorium for basketball games, they didn't take into account that I would need a good picture of the President. Most of my pictures turned out awful, but this video turned out okay. (And you'll tell that I didn't get this from YouTube!)

I took this picture of the Jumbo tron:

My only disappointment of the day was that Bush, Sr. didn't give a real address. He has an apartment somewhere around A&M and goes to games often, so my brother says they see him all the time. Well, okay then. He got up and said, "The President asked me to keep it short, so with no further ado...The President of the United States."

I know what you're all wondering. Was the speech any good? It was fantastic! Needless to say, he was very warmly received at A&M. (No shoe throwing here-that would be at a news conference in Iraq 2 days later). Not only was it the best Bush speech and the best commencement speech (I know, not hard to accomplish), it was also one of the best speeches by a politician I have ever heard. Really, if you don't know me, you need to understand I am REALLY NOT POLITICAL. I can actually get political about how much I hate politics. So most political speeches annoy me to no end, but this was funny (the jokes were actually good) and inspiring. He told us about several heroes he has met throughout his Presidency. You can see better pictures and read the entire speech here, but I want to list some of my favorite lines...
  1. And it's always an honor to be introduced by the President of the United States -- especially when he's your Dad.
  2. I am pleased to see so many of your families and loved ones here today. While you bled maroon, they bled a lot of green.
  3. To those of you who have jobs lined up -- congratulations. To those not exactly sure what comes next -- I know how you feel.
  4. Four years ago, I met Letitia Chavez-Paulette. She had been addicted to drugs; she served time for her mistakes. While in prison, she joined a faith-based program called Celebrate Recovery, and to help turn her life around. When she was released, Letitia was determined to support other women returning to society. So she started a transitional home called "A Peaceful Habitation" -- a name taken from the Book of Isaiah. Here's what Letitia said: "God's grace has kept me going. His love has kept me strong. And my faith is a gift that is helping me help others."
  5. As you embark on this journey, let me leave you with a few last pieces of advice. First, listen to your mother.
  6. Second, develop a set of principles to live by -- convictions and ideals to guide your course. There will be times when people tell you a different way is more accepted or popular. Remember that popularity is as fleeting as the Texas wind. Character and conscience are as sturdy as the oaks on this campus. If you go home at night, look in the mirror and be satisfied that you have done what is right, you will pass the only test that matters.
  7. And finally, be on the lookout for role models -- people whose conduct you admire and whose paths you can follow. With that in mind, I have one last example of courage and service. It's a story of a young man who left comfort behind to answer his nation's call, became the youngest pilot in the Navy, and nearly gave his life in World War II. When he came back home, he devoted his career to public service, and proved that success in politics can be accomplished with decency and grace. He reached the pinnacle in government, but he defines his life by other roles -- a father who gave unconditional love, a grandfather devoted to his grandchildren, and a beloved husband of the sweetheart he married a lifetime ago. Some of you will leave A&M with a degree that carries this good man's name -- George Bush. I have been blessed and honored to have carried it for 62 years.
While I was at the car waiting for Alex and Mom, the President flew away in Marine 1!!!

Really, it was the experience of a lifetime!


tiff said...

I can't imagine being in the same room as the president!

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...


Cara said...

Whoop! P graduated in '03 from A&M. :)

What an awesome experience! Loved the speech too.

Kristen M. said...

Sounds like a great time. I had a fun experience hearing Laura Bush give a speech during the last election (not this year, obviously). I have a ton of respect for the Bush family.

Phoenix's Mom said...

Wow! What an experience! Glad you had a good time!
Happy Holidays!

jill said...

i'm so jealous!!! i heart W. i have so much respect for him and how he's handled himself in the controversies in his Presidency. it's obvious he didn't shoot for popularity, which made me like him even more. i'm sad to see him go for my sake (and jack's!), but kinda relieved for his sake. he's got to be tired of the crap.

Christi said...

That is so awesome, what a neat experience!

therextras said...

Thank you soooo much for this post! I so appreciate reading these comments on a President I am truly grateful for.

I saw HW in person in 1986 when he was VP - he flew into the Texas Sesquicentennial celebration at the San Jacinto Monument. (Yes, I'm probably much older than your other readers.)

The GHW Bush Library at Texas A&M is excellent also. We visited there about 7 years ago. The National Museum of the War in the Pacific is named after HW also, also in Texas, in a town named Fredriksburg.

A close friend of mine was at the graduation, too, for her son.

AND, my oldest is fightin' Texas Aggie, class of '12. Whoop! indeed!