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Location: Phoenix, AZ, United States

Christian, wife, mother, writer, artist, teacher, published author. I love to write Christian fiction and non-fiction.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

"Ladies and gentlemen...the President of the United States of America!"

Yesterday, President Bush came to Phoenix to speak to his supporters. My friend made 75 phone calls at the Bush/Cheney headquarters, so she got 4 VIP tickets. She invited me and my son to see George W. Bush and other speakers. We were thrilled!
My son is a HUGE Bush fan. He has written a letter to the President and is hoping for a reply to his letter soon. So, we were both excited to go see Bush speak.
We arrived 3 hours early to find parking and then go through the security check. My friend and her daughter drove us and we found a great parking place 2 miles away from the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum. In the past, the Phoenix Suns used to play there and many Rock groups have entertained inside its round edifice. It is where Elvis Presely once appeared, too!
Well, we parked and then prepared for a long hike in the hot sunshine. It was 115 degrees at the time we started walking. I wasn't sure how my son would handle it. It had been awhile since he had been in the sun and walking like that. You can easily get heatstroke if you are not used to the heat.
We all began walking with our hats on and water bottles in hand. My son did great. He did not complain at all. My friend's 15 yr. old daughter, on the other hand, complained a lot. Her whining about the heat lasted for at least the first mile. It sounded like nails on the chalkboard.
I noticed that others around us were also I decided to speak up because I cannot stand whining of any kind.
I looked at the 15 yr. old and said, "You know right now, our soldiers and Marines are patrolling in 135 degree heat with kevlar vests, helmuts, and cammies on plus full gear. If they can do their jobs in such incredible heat, then surely we can walk 2 miles in tank tops and shorts to hear their Commander-in-Chief speak."
My remarks were met with silence....and it sounded good.
We made our way to the front gates and flashed our VIP tickets which moved us along rather quickly. Once we passed through the security stations without any problems, we went inside to save our seats. I was amazed with how many people were there 2 1/2 hours ahead of time, but it felt good to see so many people there to support the President.
We found some space on some steps and planted ourselves there firmly. We all felt as if we were melting outside, so the cool air inside felt great. Then we waited for the big moment.
The guest speakers started early and they helped pass the time away. The first speaker was my friend, Mike Broomhead. He lost his brother in Iraq last May. It broke my heart when I found out. Mike is a good guy and he was so proud of his brother. Several of his brother's troops came to the funeral and told Mike how his brother saved many lives before he died. But Mike is mostly proud of the handwritten letter his mom received from the President himself. It was not a copy...but the original written in ink. She was very touched.
Mike wrote an e-mail to the President thanking him for the kind gesture. Several months later, Mike had a chance to see the President and to his astonishment, Mr. Bush asked about Mike's mom and he remembered Mike's e-mail. Pretty amazing since this President probably receives thousands of e-mails daily.
So, Mike Broomhead went up to the podium and told the story of his brother's heroic fate in Iraq. This brings on a surge of cheers from the growing crowd. Many more people are filing in to the building.
JD Hayworth, one of our Representatives, gave a rousing speech just trashing John Kerry in a humurous way. It was great fun. Rick Schroeder, the NYPD Blue actor, spoke about his endorsement of the President. He was there with his wife and two sons. Then our beloved Luis Gonzales spoke about the 2001 World Series against New York. He spoke about how the team went to Ground Zero while in New York and seeing the carnage there really changed him. His support of Bush is solidified in the President's stance on defeating terrorism.
A few more speakers and some musical entertainment continued on until it was finally time to see the President. Mike asked all of us to shout "4 more years!" as loud as we could until we saw the President come in. I looked around at all the people screaming and waving signs, pom poms, and balloons. It was like a rock concert!! One of the Presidential aides came out and placed the official Seal of the President of the United States on the podium. That simple act drew thunderous cheers and shouts from the audience.
John McCain and John Kyle (our US Senators) came out and then it was time to welcome the President. The announcer yelled the President's name and there were so many screams and yells, that I could barely hear my son ask if I saw "him" yet.
"Not yet!" I yelled out. Bush was still shaking hands of some delegates behind the podium. One of the delegates handed Bush his stetson cowboy hat and the President playfully held it up to the crowd. More screams from an already energetic crowd responded to the President's actions. Dressed casually in a blue oxford shirt rolled up at the sleeves in a "ready for business" style and dark Dockers, he stood there at the podium and I asked my son if he could see him. "Yes!" he screamed back with a huge smile. We dutifully waved our pom poms at our President. He was about 25 feet from us and because we were on steps, we were eye level with him. The white lights were so bright, it was like being outside. He made eye contact with us many times and I just waved and yelled at him. I felt like a kid! Bush was blushing red and laughing. He could not believe the response. He looked at McCain, who was a few feet next to him, and McCain gave him a "See? I told you so..." look. Apparently, he had told the President that Phoenix was very excited to see him.
Seeing that McCain's statement was the understatement of the year, Bush just smiled and waved at people. He read our signs. He pointed at them in acknowledgment. More screams.
Finally, John Kyle introduced John McCain who introduced the President. More screams.
Then George W. Bush did what he usually does best: he spoke to his audience in a very personable, polite, sincere, and meaningful way. He seems to be as approachable in person as he is on TV interviews. He laughed alot and smiled a lot. He covered pretty much every issue in this campaign. Each point was met with rousing applause and approval.
I glanced around the coliseum because I love to see people's reactions. Some people were lightly listening, others were listening intently. Some uniformed Army soldiers were listening with stoic expressions. I wasn't sure if it was because they hadn't heard anything they liked yet, or if because they were in uniform they felt they shouldn't respond...I still don't know.
When the topic reached the War on Terrorism, the crowd responded with overwhelming approval as to how this administration was handling things. One lady, in the front, held up a sign that read, "My son is in Iraq" and waved it up toward the President. He read the sign and acknowledged her. He told everyone he saw her sign and then reassured her that her son is serving honorably in Iraq. Everyone applauded. His speech lasted way over an hour mostly because of all the applause. But I felt satisfied that he covered every issue succinctly.
After his closing, he hopped down and made his way through the crowd in the front row shaking their hands, taking pictures with them, and signing autographs. The lady who had the son in Iraq, made her way to the front. The Secret Service agent there made sure she stayed put to meet with the President. He found her, shook her hand, listened to her, then signed her photo. My friend's 15 yr. old daughter ran to the front and pushed her way to meet the President. He passed her, so she ran all the way to the end of the row, and he saw her. He stopped to shake her hand. She was so excited.
He stoped by some more people and one man handed Bush a little baby boy. This baby wasn't more than 30 days old. President Bush held up the boy and stared at him lovingly. Then he drew him close to his cheek and smiled for a photo. The boy's dad was taking a cellphone photo. The President kissed the baby then gave him back to his dad. I could just tell that Bush can harldy wait to be a Grandpa. He just looked so longingly at that little baby boy. He'll be a wonderful Grandpa. You know, the kind who teaches his grandkids things like baiting a hook, hitting a ball, removing brush from the ranch, etc.
After that moment was captured, several more parents held up babies to the President for more photo ops. I can hardly blame them. It makes for a cute picture. He willingly obliged.
Then, with one final wave to the rousing crowd, he was gone.
I just looked at my son, who was sitting now, and smiled. I knew he would remember this moment for the rest of his life.
Well, that makes 2 Presidents I have seen in person: George H. W. Bush in 1991, and now his son, George W.
Later, after the appearance, a talk radio show host interviewed a young Iraqi man who attended the rally. He spoke of how grateful he was to be in America and to see the President. He told the story about his family fleeing a war torn Iraq and an evil Saddam Hussein. It was a heartfelt testimony.
Leaving the rally, we all passed by protestors exercising their freedoms. Their signs had the usual hate speech, vulgarity, and cursings toward our President. My son asked why the protestors were there and I told him about the freedom of speech we have here in America.
He understood. I sure am glad that my son lives in a country he won't have to flee from anytime soon. I am also glad that he got to see America at its finest.


Blogger ALa said...

I am very jealous! Bush comes here (to Philly) a lot and I have never gotten to see him...I had VIP tickets to see Laura (but couldn't get a babysitter)...
We have met Sean Hannity twice and my 5 yr. old said to me the other day...
"Mom I am mad at you"
"Cause I only got to meet Sean Hannity and you never let me meet President Bush!"
"It's not that easy baby!"
Oh well, I will keep trying! I have registered 8 people so far --that should be worth something! haha

August 12, 2004 at 7:42 PM  
Blogger artbyruth said...

I would like to meet Sean Hannity as well. Hopefully, you will get to see Bush this campaign. If you must, take your kids....even if they are babies! There were so many babies there on Wednesday. It was loud for them, but they didn't seem to mind it. I noticed that many of them were sound asleep.

Anyways, it would be worth it. It is a great feeling. He just looks so kind and personable. He seemed really shocked at how loud we were!

August 13, 2004 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger ~Jen~ said...

I'm green with envy!!!

I have seen Bush Senior several times out and about (I live about an hour from his library, and they spend half the year in Houston). I have never seen Dubya though.

August 16, 2004 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger ~Jen~ said...

It's probably for the best that I do not meet Sean Hannity though. I'd probably try to kiss him and get arrested.

August 16, 2004 at 11:08 AM  

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