You may or may not have heard this yet, but President Bush came to Texas A&M on Friday to speak at the graduation commencement. Our friend Paul was graduating and since his family was not able to come out for it, he and his wife invited us to go with them. I must say that it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
We left the house at 8:30 am, parked and had to go through security at the door. They had metal detectors and also you had to stand spread eagle and be scanned by the metal wand things. They allowed cameras but you had to turn it on to go through security so they could verify that it was an actual working camera. Paul sat on the floor with the rest of the grad students and we were far up to the side.
As we were waiting, on one side of the stage 10 cadets dressed in white lined the stairs to the stage.
"Please welcome the 43rd President of the United States, George Walker Bush." The audience exploded in cheers. I must say I was so overwhelmed. Never in my life did I believe that I would be able to be in the same room as the President.
The commencement started and the Cadet Choir Sang the National Anthem (how cool is it that I was looking at the same flag as the president as we sang the National anthem)
Next Barbara Bush, who is recently home from the hospital introduced her husband (he's a former aggie and a great support at A&M, he comes to all the home games and his presidential library is here). Former President Bush got up and said "My son said to keep it short. So without further ado, the president of the united states!" Seriously, 3 sentences!!!
President Bush is hilarious and inspiring at the same time. His biggest message to the graduates was about determination and service. He shared a story with us about a soldier he met in a hospital. He had lost both his legs but told the president that he was determined to run again. President Bush told the man that when he was ready to run to let him know and he would run with him. President Bush related that 6 months later he got a call at the oval office and it was this soldier who told him he was ready to run. He came to the whitehouse with his steel legs and they ran around the white house. Bush said "and I'll tell you, he left his commander and chief in the dust"
He also talked about service. Texas a&m is a school dedicated in so many ways to service and he told us all that service makes us better people. He talked about how his dad was a man who was able to have values and be in politics and told us that we should all strive to do service, whether your in the military or a school teacher.
The best advice that he gave was "Listen to your mother and do what you think is right even if it’s not popular,"
A couple of the funny things he said:
*"Mom, I haven't had a chance to thank you for this, thanks for my gray hair."
*A and M has a tradition around their mascot Reveille which is an actual dog. There is a cadet unit whose job is to take care of reveille and she goes with them to class. It is a standing rule on campus that if Reveille barks in class, class is immediately dismissed. Bush was referring to how cool he thought this was and he said "That would have come in handy at a few press conferences."
Overall it was just amazing to be in his presence and to hear his great words of wisdom. This is the last commencement he will give as President. To be there and to witness this will be something that I will always remember and cherish!
Oh yeah, I almost forgot such a cool part. Afterwards, Sean Joni and I were waiting by their car waiting for Paul to join us. Well, Airforce One landed in Waco because the airport here is too small and he was helicoptered in to college station on "Marine One". Well it turns out that the helicopters were like 200 yards from where the car was. All the sudden a big helicopter flew overhead that said United states of America on the side.....then a couple minutes later 2 MORE helicopters that looked just like it flew over head. If that wasn't cool enough, two massive Apache helicopters flew over top. They were so big. My camera was out of memory so I was able to get a picture of one on my cell phone as it flew away!!
This was one of the coolest days ever!!!
The really good pictures are from news articles, and the long distance ones are from my camera.
If you would like to read the entire speech, it is posted on the white house webiste. here is the link to the speech. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/12/20081212-4.html