Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Sock Is Sad

Anyone who knows me also knows that I don't go anywhere without my current sock project. I'm a Yarn Harlot disciple in this respect. Unfortunately, the sock was not allowed to accompany me on my latest adventure yesterday because all large handbags were banned when I went to...wait for it...the White House!*

It’s National Military Family Appreciation Month, and this Friday (May 9th) is Military Spouse Day. In honor of the event, military spouses from around the country received invitations to the White House to hear President Bush speak about military families and to honor six volunteers who have done great works on behalf of military members and their families. Go read the President’s remarks.

I rode in to work with the DCA yesterday, and his mom came over to make sure the kids made it on to the school bus. When we got to his office, we found out that one of the ladies who works for the admiral was also going. She and some other wives from the Navy Yard were riding in a van provided by the Commandant of Naval District Washington, so she invited me to ride along with them so the DCA wouldn’t have to leave work to drop me off.

We rode in the van from the base over to the Southeast Entrance to the White House grounds. We had to stand in line for quite a while so the Secret Service could check IDs, and we weren’t allowed to take in any large bags, suitcases, or backpacks. We were allowed to have small camera cases and clutch-type purses only. After we made it through the first gate, we had to go through metal detectors, get scanned with the wand if we “beeped”, and have our little bags searched. It was kind of like going to the airport!

Once inside, we found they had set up a buffet breakfast on the South Lawn for all 1100 of us. There was fresh fruit with a light caramel sauce, ham empanadas with cheese sauce, at least 8 different types of handmade pastries, and biscuits with blueberry jam. They were also serving fresh-squeezed OJ, cranberry juice, and coffee. There were lots of picnic tables with red checkered tablecloths all over the lawn. We weren’t able to get seats because we were some of the last to arrive, but while we stood to eat, we had a fabulous view of the south side of the White House (the curvy side), and we could see all the way down to the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial.

Because we didn’t have a table, we scooted up close to the stage area on one side near the guard rope. We were told we could stay there as long as we weren’t blocking the view of the people seated at the tables. We got an even better view of the White House from this angle, and we could see the podium where the President was supposed to speak and to introduce the volunteers.

The Marine Corps Band played while we waited and in between the speakers. The first person to speak was the Secretary of Defense, and he welcomed us and thanked us for coming out. Then singer-songwriter Phil Vassar sang the National Anthem. Shortly after 10 a.m., the President began his address. When he had finished, he and the volunteers moved to a special picnic table near the stage we were standing by to watch Vassar sing 3 more songs--Love Is A Beautiful Thing (in honor of Jenna Bush’s wedding this Saturday), I’m Alright (in which he required audience participation), and American Child. After the singing, President Bush greeted the people along the roped off edge of the stage, and I got to shake his hand! (My one brush with fame!)

As we were getting ready to leave, someone announced over the loudspeaker that we were invited to tour the White House starting in the East Garden. This was a big surprise, because my emails about the event said there would be no tour. We entered the White House from the garden and walked down the Ground Floor Corridor that had artwork, a portrait of Hillary Clinton as First Lady, some of the White House china patterns, the Library, and the Vermeil Room. We couldn’t go in the rooms, but I could see a picture of Jacqueline Kennedy through the door of the Vermeil Room. We only walked about halfway down the corridor before we went upstairs. On the First Floor, we saw the East Room, the Green Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room, and the State Dining Room. We exited through the Entrance Hall of the north side of the White House (the flat side) onto Pennsylvania Avenue before we rode in the van back to the Navy Yard.

If you want to see what I saw, go to the White House tour web site. It’s a photo tour of the White House that includes a lot of history I didn't know! We apparently were very blessed today because someone said these rooms are no longer on the regular tour of the White House.

It was definitely worth the lost sock knitting time!

*My tatting is incredibly thrilled though, because it got to ride along in the tiny bag I was using as a camera case. It is now the happiest purple doily on the planet!

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