Early this morning I shook Justin Bieber’s President Obama’s hand. Haha – that one’s for you birthday-GovLoop-Steve!
On a serious note, this morning I had the amazing honor and good fortune to walk onto the White House South Lawn alongside my wonderful, bad-ass friend Heather Coleman. The event was a state visit by the Republic of South Korea President Lee Myung-bak. It was also an opportunity for those who communicate digitally to attend a White House Tweetup.
I thought I would write about the experience so I don’t forget any details – – and can savor the memory forever.
We arrived early – – around 6:45am in drizzling rain and moved through three security checkpoints. Our names were on a list, and anyone not on the list was turned away. After waiting outside the White House gates for about 25 minutes, the POTUS staff decided the weather was bearable enough to continue on and conduct the ceremony.
Upon entering the gates, we walked along the backside of the White House where the press were gathering. The steady rain turned into a hard, pouring rain, and eventually an annoucement came on saying the ceremony had been moved inside, and we would only see the motorcade as it drove by. Quite the letdown.
The rain began subsiding, and after 30 minutes passed and after several annoucements testing the speaker equiment, the outside ceremony was back on. Pomp and circumstance began and eventually the Bidens, Obamas, and President Lee Myung-bak and First Lady Kim Yoon-ok of the Republic of Korea made their appearence.
When President Obama walked up to the podium, a hush fell over the crowd. His presence was magical, overwhelming, and I felt like pixie dust followed him everywhere he turned, looked, and the way he addressed the audience. He stood about 20 feet away from me and my friend Heather. A woman we met standing next to us was obviously as swept away by his presence as we were, and at one point when he turned and looked in our direction, I thought the three of us might pass out there on the spot.
After the ceremony concluded, what I thought could not possibly get better, got better. President Obama walked down the podium and began walking in the direction of where we were standing. Within a few seconds he stood before us, only a few feet away. My heart was beating so fast, I could hardly hold my camera straight to take pictures.
After five minutes or so, we realized he was making a loop around the guests, and we walked to the other side of the roped in area we were standing. The Secret Service guard calmly explained he was walking towards us, and if we waiting calmly and patiently we could shake his hand. Within a few seconds, he shook hands with Heather (to my left), and then shook hands with me. He held my hand with two hands, and I realized immediately after I had just experienced something I will probably never experience again.
It took me most of today to come down from that adrenaline rush. I am still in awe. Overall, the experience will probably be up there in my top overall life moments, and I know when I see Obama again on the news, livestreams, newspapers, magazines, web, etc, I will always remember his soft hands 😉