As some of you may remember, for those young enough to still have your short term memory intact, I along with my wife were invited to the White House for a Holiday Reception in December.
Well at long last the most important picture from the event, shaking President Obama hand, arrived in the mail so I felt I could now tell you all how it went.
First you have to imaging neither I nor my wife really knew what to expect. Were we going to be two of a thousand, was there going to be food, would we even get to meet the President? So with these questions dancing around our heads off we headed to Washington DC to stay with my wife’s sister and visit the White House.
So on the day of the event the first big question. How do we get there? If we drive can we park? Should we take a taxi? I finally said is there a problem with just taking DC Metro and walking the three blocks to the White House? So Metro it was. Once leaving the Metro stop and walking towards the White House the question of will there be anything to eat? We hadn’t had lunch and thought maybe stopping for a sandwich would be a good idea. Unfortunately there was nothing, but more upscale restaurants on our route and none would be quick enough. So on we walked. As we approached our designated entrance, The Southeast Gate quite a line had already formed waiting to go through security.
Now security as you can well imagine is tight. First check point you give your name and show your ID and it is compared against the list. Next check point is through the metal detectors, bag search and wanded even if you don’t set the detector off. Again you name is compared against the list. Third check point one more time with name and ID and you are finally out and walking up to the East entrance and then walking down the East Colonnade.
The first thing we were greeted with was a high school choral group singing Holiday songs and then on past The Library and the Vermeil Room. Then up a flight of stair into the entrance hall where we were greeted by the Marine Band in full dress uniform and one of many servers holding a tray of champagne and sparkling water. By this point there is a smile planted on my face that will not go away for the rest of the afternoon.
Now remember when I said we were worried about food? Well we shouldn’t have. Both the East Room and the State Dining Room had long buffets set up in them with just about everything you could want, from filet mignon to stone crabs. Then surrounding the buffets were smaller tables loaded with deserts from cookies shaped like BO to cakes. And each room had a open bar or two where again anything you wanted from from egg nog to wine. FYI best damn egg nog I have ever tasted!
As to the number of people my wife and I guessed somewhere in the neighborhood of 350. Yet the question still remained, would we get to meet the President or would he just make an appearance and say something to the invitees as a group? This question was quickly answered as a Naval lieutenant came around and handed us colored card saying that we should line up for a reception line at the specified time on the card. At the specified time we lined up along with about 100 other people There were three separate times to accommodate all the invitees. then were ushered back down stairs to the ground floor. At the bottom of the stairs a young intern asked my name and then handed me an engraved card with both my name and my wife’s on it. We then entered the Diplomatic room where another military officer takes your card and asks my wife her relationship to me. She said wife and he wrote wife on the card and gave it back to us. We then followed the line into the map room where The President and First Lady were waiting to greet everybody. As we approached the President another officer took our card and announce; Mr. President and Mrs. Obama may I introduce you to Stephen Fox and his wife Sabrina. And bang you are standing in front of The President shaking his hand. He thanks me for coming and for all my hard work and I say I am honored to meet him and just as quickly you are shaking the first lady’s hand and then it is over and you are moving out of the room. Very quick, very efficient, but a memory I will never forget.
(A side note both my wife and I were struck by what a absolutely beautiful couple they are together.)
So all in all we were at the White House for about four hours, met some great people from all over the country and have a memory that will last us the rest of our lives.
One final note I must have absconded with about 100 paper cocktail napkins with the Presidential seal 🙂
If you want to see more picture of our visit please click: