Monday, October 19, 2009
Seeing Our President!
When I learned President Obama would be in College Stations speaking in October, I tried several ways to get tickets and had no luck. Then on Thursday, 10/15, I got a call from Sondra Haltom at the Texas Democratic Party saying I had the opportunity to have 2 tickets. I was so excited. My daughter Laney wanted to take 1-year-old Josey, but they wouldn’t allow that – too distracting. So I took the 18-year-old granddaughter of Lois Brown, a strong local Democrat who also had 2 tickets, for herself and her daughter – so 3 generations of that family saw Obama. I later learned that I got my tickets because Bill Holcombe, of Crockett, couldn’t use his and asked that they offer them to me. I’ll owe him always.
It was a long afternoon. We picked up our tickets at the College Station Mall by 12:30 p.m. and got in line for the buses that would take us all to Rudder Tower. The buses started running at 2. At Rudder we surrendered all hand-held items to be searched, and we walked through scanners. I was glad I’d left my pocket knife in my truck. We were in our seats by 3, and Rudder Auditorium was full. I was lucky in that we were very close to the stage, only about 12 rows back.
We were first entertained by a delightful Aggie a cappela singing group called Apotheosis, and that alone was worth the trip. At the end of everything, I think it was the Aggie Singing Cadets that sang patriotic songs, and again, that was wonderful.
George Bush Sr. talked first. I was amazed at how tottery he was, and he walked with a cane. Then President Obama spoke. Neither dwelt on politics, and both were very complimentary and supportive of the other. They talked about community service and giving of oneself. One of my favorite things came at the end. They were on a raised platform, stepping up or down about a step above the stage – and Bush and Bob Gates had been seated to the left of the microphone on that platform while Obama spoke. They began exiting to the right, with Obama ahead. After he stepped down, he paused and waited for Bush Sr. and took him gently by the elbow to steady him, and they walked off the stage that way.
It had been a very long afternoon – we weren’t allowed food or drinks in the buses or Rudder. As we left Rudder, most of us were disappointed that the buses weren’t waiting. We waited impatiently for about 15 minutes, getting crankier. Then from behind us to the left we heard sirens on that street, and we turned to see 3 police escort vehicles followed by 2 SUVs with flags on the corners, and then more vehicles – and we realized it was our President and Bush, and we then understood why the buses weren’t there yet. Security had closed down the streets until Obama and Bush Sr. had departed campus. Everyone relaxed more and waited.
There were protestors across the street and to the right, but I’m not sure if they were ever seen or heard by the President. There were also Aggies protesting the protestors. One sign said, “Free Nelson Mandella” (a little late) and another, my favorite, said, “Make awkward inappropriate sexual advances, not war.”
It was a truly grand day.