Inside the White House
The Phillies visit to the White House today drew major media coverage. Todd Zolecki and a bunch of Philly writers were there so there’s plenty to read. TV coverage? Tons of TV crews were in the Rose Garden for the ceremonies.
In addition to Charlie Manuel and his players, Phillies VPs and their spouses and Phillies owners were part of the day. Three buses left the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Alexandria, VA, at 10:15 a.m. for a police-escorted trip to the White House.
Obviously, security was heavy as we pulled in to a street that led to the White House. First, the buses were screened. We then walked about a block to a security station where everyone was screened. Same type of thing you experience at the airport.
We entered the east side of the famous house and were split into two groups. Each had a tour guide. My wife has chronic bronchitis which means oxygen is needed. Security provided a wheel chair for her which really helped because there was a lot of walking. I was the amateur driver and got a pretty good workout on a humid day in Washington. Happy to report that my steering didn’t damage any of the historic furniture.
Along the corridor into the main portion of the building were numerous photographs, a collage of past and present First Ladies. We toured the gold room, china room, library and a small oval room on the ground level. We were told Presidents often visit the library for research and for practicing speeches. The four walls were filled with books. No Phillies Media Guides!
The small oval room (I don’t remember the name) is where Presidents greet foreign dignitaries and ambassadors. The room features a beautiful oval carpet (you expected a square carpet?). Flags of each state were woven into the outer rim of the carpet. Shane found Hawaii very quickly and proudly staked his state’s flag.
Mother nature called. I was escorted (secret service) to the library and directed to a white door with a polished bronze sign, “Gentlemen.” Not sure I qualified, I went in anyway. Just think, I stood where Presidents have stood. The only way to describe the emotion of the moment: Wee Wee!.
Julie had the same calling and was escorted to a ladies room in the china room. China? Displays of china ordered by the different administration, each setting uniquely designed. The most expensive setting belonged to former First Lady Hilary Clinton, according to Katie, our tour guide.
When our group headed for the stairway to the second floor, Julie and I were escorted by the secret service to an elevator. “This is the President’s elevator,” explained the officer. “He stands right back here (pointing to the rear left side). Sometimes he’ll chat, other times you can tell there’s something on his mind.” President Obama, we also learned, will use the steps.
On the second floor we visited the green room, red room, blue room and a large dining room that can accommodate 140 persons. A portrait of President George Washington is displayed in the green room, the same photo that appears on a green dollar bill.
In the red room was a portrait of Woodrow Wilson, the first President to throw out a first ball at a World Series game. For those who aren’t aware, Mr. Wilson did it at Game 2, October 9, 1915, at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia.
The tour began at 11 in the morning and was to last 45 minutes. Well, precisely at 11:45 a.m., the players and owners were ushered to the Oval Office to meet President Obama and take some group photos.
The rest of us were directed to the Rose Garden. Rows of chairs were set up for us, various politicians and others. The media packed a semi-circle behind the rows of chairs.
The World Champion players, plus David Montgomery, Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro Jr., were brought out and stood on risers. The players were lined up according to height. Ryan Madson led the parade and J-Roll brought up the rear. Then an announcement, “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States and manager Charlie Manuel.” Yep, Charlie was walking behind the President. Pretty cool.
For the details of the ceremony, click on Todd Zolecki’s story.
Julie was the lone person in a wheel chair and we were ushered to the east end of the first row of seats. After the President spoke and photos were taken, he began shaking hands of those in the first row, starting on the west end. I was second last and Julie was last. We won’t be washing our right hands for a while.
Several people mentioned the visit seemed like of an out of body experience. It was a thrill and honor. Seeing all the history that has taken place in the White House makes Julie and I feel more proud than ever to be an American.
God Bless America!