D.C. Trip - President & Vice-President

When we returned from our D.C. trip, several people asked me jokingly, “So did you see the President?” And my answer? “Why yes, yes we did.” I assume you’ve heard the phrase, “Do good things for other people, and good things happen to you.” I believe that’s true.

The day in our journey had come to walk around D.C. to see all of the memorials, statues, and a few buildings we’ve always heard about. I especially wanted Youngest-daughter to see the war memorials. She knows an ancestor fought in the Revolutionary War. She has already seen historical places and cemeteries for the American Civil War. She has direct ancestors who fought in that war. I wanted her to see the WWII memorial because that was her grandfathers’ war. One is still alive and she knows and loves him and she’s seen pictures and heard stories of the other. She knows about Korea – she has an uncle who was killed there. And I wanted her to see ”The Wall,” the Vietnam memorial because that was my war. I want my daughter to be proud of her heritage and the sacrifices her family has made throughout the history of our country, but I want her to know war is not a good thing; not a thing to want or glorify.

Big commotion!
So we got up early and headed out after a light breakfast into a chilly, very overcast day. We had only gone a couple of blocks when we heard a siren; then two, then a bunch. Naturally, with all of the security in the city, you can’t help but think about terrorists, so that was the first thing that came to our minds. Who’s done something stupid now and exactly what did they do? As we walked on, we saw a lot of police, firemen, ambulances, and TV crews on the street we were walking down. Nobody had the street blocked off though, so we continued on. We heard from 1 person there was a bomb threat on the train tracks, but then we heard (and later confirmed by watching the news that night) that it was just a piece of a train broke and fell off on the track so they had to shut the train system down for a while. No big deal after all.

Youngest-daughter jumping in
front of Washington Monument
We walked on down to the Washington Monument and hung around looking at it for a while. We couldn’t go in because it is still closed due to damage from the earthquake last year. We were heading toward The Mall and other monuments when we heard sirens again. As I looked toward the sound, I saw it wasn’t emergency vehicles, it was a motorcade with police escorts. We didn’t know who it was, but with all of the police surrounding it and with the SWAT sniper dudes I caught a glimpse of on the roofs of the surrounding buildings, we figured it could be the president so we ran about 20 yards to the sidewalk and got there just in time to see the Vice-President in his Cadillac limo! As soon as I recognized him, I raised my camera, but somebody in the car with him was looking at me and he raised his hand to the window. I got a great picture of a hand obscuring the Vice-President’s face. I’m still not sure why he did that. It’s not like his picture has never been taken.

VP motorcade
After the motorcade passed, we walked back to the walkway around the Washington Monument and once again headed toward The Mall. We came upon a guy and girl taking pictures of each other in front of the Monument so the Momma-woman, being the kind and friendly soul she is, offered to take a picture of the both of them together in front of it. After she took a couple of pics of them, she asked if they had seen the Vice-President go by. The girl said yes they had and she happened to be standing next to a policeman who told her if they wanted to see something even more cool than they should make their way to the White House in the next few minutes. She asked if the President was coming out or something and he told her he couldn’t say, but they wouldn’t be disappointed if they went there. Interesting.

Horse patrol
So we all headed toward the White House, but soon the nice couple stopped to take some more pictures and we went on. As we got closer to the White House, we noticed there were a good number of people milling around. What I really noticed though was the number of Secret Service cars parked along the street. How did I know what they were? Well, all of the cars had “Secret Service” written on them in big letters. I also took note of 6 or 7 “road crew” workers in hard hats and tool belts that supposedly were working on a traffic light. The traffic light was working fine and 2 of the workers were on ladders perched at the top of the light post with a wrench in one hand and walkie-talkies in the other and all of the other "workers" were just standing beside panel vans and watching everyone. Clever disguise guys. No evil-doers would ever spot you!

Marine One lifting off
We hung around long enough to begin wondering if something, whatever it was, was actually going to happen when all of a sudden I heard a helicopter. Then 2 helicopters. As they got closer, I could see it was Marine One, the President’s helicopter. Actually, it was 2 Marine Ones. Then at the last-minute, one of them peeled off and the other one came in over us and landed on the White House lawn. Cool. How many times have you seen the Prez embark on his helicopter on the news? Lots of times. And here it was happening right in front of us! A few minutes after landing, the president came out, boarded, and off that sucker went. This time, with the president on board, the chopper went right directly over our heads. It was quickly joined by the 2nd Marine One and soon they were over the horizon. Evidently they use 2 identical helicopters so if a bad guy is out there, he won’t know which one the president is in.

So yes, we did indeed see the president and we saw the vice-president as well. I’m not saying President Obama is my hero or “my guy” or anything like that, but still, it’s pretty darn cool to see the President of the United States and to see with your own little eyes something you’ve seen a bunch of times on TV. And if Momma-woman had not kindly offered to take a picture of that girl and guy, complete strangers to us, we would never have known to get over to the White House. Karma I guess. In the right place at the right time. Youngest-daughter will really have something for show-n-tell at school!