Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My friend Ben reports from the POTUS ropeline at Boeing Field (with photo)

"U.S. President Barack Obama high-fives a young supporter as Air Force One lands at Boeing Field during a visit to Seattle on Thursday . The president was scheduled to attend two fund raisers during the visit." Photo: JOSHUA TRUJILLO / SEATTLEPI.COM

Hi Howie,

I just wanted to tell you I had a momentous meeting yesterday for about 15 seconds with the President of The United States. A couple of days ago, I had to provide some security information about myself to Organizing For America for possibly greeting President Obama at Boeing Field.

I did not think much of it. I was assuming they wanted a group of us to hold some signs and cheer the President as he disembarked from Air Force One. Yes, exciting, but still doing my duty as a grassroots volunteer for Organizing For America.

Yesterday, as I was nearing Boeing Field, there was security all over the area, as much as a few blocks away. It gave you the feeling of something very important was going to happen. I met our OFA contact at the terminal and we went through Secret Service security. We were then escorted to a waiting room. They had snacks and drinks to make us comfortable for our wait. It was in this waiting room, I found out, we were to line up at the bottom of the stairs of Air Force One and President Obama would shake each of our hands.

My heart was pounding a little faster than normal. What was I going to say? Everyone was dressed super special, except me in my casual attire, jeans, short sleeved shirt. What I would have wanted to say was a long list of my appreciation for what President Obama was doing for our country, but that would not have worked in a few seconds. I could have picked one item, but it would not do justice for all he's done. I could have said I would like to have been there in Reno to support him at the VFW National meeting, to which I was invited. None of those ideas seem to fit for my 15 seconds.

So, after Air Force One landed and approached the final landing spot in front of our waiting room, there were 'staffers' disembarking from the rear of the plane. The stairway was brought to the front of the airplane and there were 2 Air Force Staff enlisted personnel saluting the President at the bottom of the stairs. They were sharply dressed, well decorated, and appeared to be in top physical shape. There were TV crews and Cameras with very expensive camera lens taking pictures about 100 feet away. The crowd of well-wishers was about 200 feet away.

As President Barack Obama appeared at the top of the stairs, he waved to the crowd and walked down the stairs. President Obama was very impressive looking, well-dressed, energetic, and I could sense he had the weight on his shoulders of the United States of America. As I envisioned many leaders, he was even more so in person. What would I finally say when he came to me about 8th in line. I said: I'm sorry Mr. President, I did not get the memo about wearing a coat and tie. He said, that's OK, you're a lot more comfortable than me as he put his hand on my shoulder. Then he asked me my name. I said, Ben, and he said thank you for your work! My 15 seconds was up, but what a thrill!

As he finished shaking hands with us, he started walking toward the open door limousine, but walked right past it to the well-wishers near the terminal. He wanted to greet them as well. What a 'down-to-earth' President. We were told not to move from our spot because once he got into the limo the motorcade would take off. As President Obama finished with the cheering crowd he again walked toward the limousine and bypassed it to get a last minute group photo. We were told we would get a copy. He thanked us as a group, got into his limo and the motorcade drove off.

I then returned to our West Seattle Phone Bank at OFA HQ told the people there of my experience and started making calls. I was extremely grateful for the opportunity and wished others could have been there as well. So while the meeting and handshake took about 15 seconds there were many minutes before that meeting and endless time afterward that will stay with me forever.


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