October 9, 2004

Presidential Visit

It is not often you have the opportunity to see a sitting president speak and even rarer that it happens near your home. The president came to the Twin Cities suburbs this weekend and we had the opportunity to see him. Not only did we get to attend the rally but because we had volunteered so much throughout this week we got to be very close up near him. We were right near the podium about 5 rows back (standing only so we were quite close to the stage).

It was an amazing and very busy week. We were at our local headquarters often and helped with lawn signs, tickets, door knocking and wherever we were needed. The more of the rally we drove along the route the president would be taking and put up more signs. We were able to get into a special section because of all our work.

We were originally even closer than we ended up. However, several people cut in front of us and we decided not to make a big deal about it. It was frustrating and difficult to deal with people who were being rude and inconsiderate and very focused on how close they could get. We decided we were already so close it would not matter. We wanted to set a positive example for our kids. It was a bit disappointing that we ended up just a bit too far back to shake his hand. Of course the people who cut in front of us got to shake his hand. _Sigh_ I must admit that frustrated me but I needed to just be happy we were so close and happy for those who got to shake his hand. Friends of ours son was actually held by both the President and the First Lady!

President Bush's speech was good and I was amazed at how much energy he had considering we were his third speech of the day - in the third state he had been in that day! Rhiannon was able to pay attention through much of the speech though parts of it went over her head and she started to get ancy as he spoke for nearly 40 minutes. Ciaran and Sirah both slept through part of the speech - though both got to see the president.

Perhaps one of the neatest parts of this visit was seeing the whole process from start to finish. It was announced on Sunday night that there was the possibility he was coming and we started working at headquarters and giving out tickets on Tuesday morning after the go ahead was given Monday night. I took the kids to see the site as it normally was before anything started. Then we went several times to see the way they built everything up and how they did it and how long it took. We talked to a member of the Bush Cheney campaign about how they do everything and the amount of time they usually have and whether this was an easier or tougher setup. I took the kids to see the stage and podium the day before and then of course we attended the event. After the event we drove past to see how they break everything down as well.

It was interesting for the kids to see how security worked and how they used emergency vehicles to block off the site. It was interesting for them to see that the inside of the rally was like a fair with food booths and vendors selling shirts and buttons. The whole experience was wonderful and I am so glad we did it. There of course were challenging parts to the day - which started for us at 6am and went on until nearly 6pm that evening. There were difficulties involved in having the kids with us and many of our friends thought we were crazy bringing our kids = but I am so glad that we did it together as a family. Even if their memories are not strong of this day - they will know that they had the opportunity to hear a sitting president speak. This is actually Rhia and Ciaran's second time hearing President Bush live at a rally.

Taking these opportunities are the things memories are made of. I'll take the challenges and frustrations that go along with it. Knowing in my heart that what others may think is the "sensible" choice (ie - leave the kids at home) is not always the best choice for our family. Our children may be young but they live up to and meet expectations and I believe they truly are rewarded and enriched by the experience no matter how little they retain immediately. It is wonderful to do things like this together as a family as well.


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