10 years ago, I taught at a small international school in Estonia. A handful of the American teachers were invited to a reception for the President.
Out of ethical opposition to the standing president, my friends refused to go. Being the most liberal of the bunch and a supporter of Al Gore and John Kerry, everyone turned to me to lead the protest, to refuse to attend the reception.
No way! I jumped at the chance to meet President Bush. What an awesome photo opportunity!
We were scanned and our bags searched. Ushered into a small hall, I pushed my way up to the front so I could take photos.
The children turned out to be the stars of the event. There was a long wait before the President came to speak. While waiting, the children were children – dressed up for a momentous event, they fidgeted, yawned, and look bored.
George Bush was a very charming man. He told jokes and was surprisingly real. He didn’t act like the Cheney driven, warmongering criminal that I expected. Known for his verbal gaffes, he spoke quite eloquently. “Where had they put the real President Bush?” I asked myself.
In the reception line, the President walked down the waiting line smiling and nodding his head. When he reached me, he stopped and took my hand. The President of the United States held my hand and asked me how I came to be in that far away place, and did I miss home. I don’t know what else he said. It was all a blur. I was talking to the President of the United States! We talked for a long time. It was like he was interested.
Even, if I didn’t agree with his politics on that Fall day of 2006, George Bush was a warm and pleasant man. Just another human being. I must admit, I was relieved.
I always like taking photos of the crowd watching and waiting. For the photographer, the main event is seldom as interesting as the people who come to watch.