my dear friends, I got to shake the hand of Vice President Cheney today!
was one of the greatest thrills of my life. I never thought I would
get to do something like that!
chauffeured Bonnie and me to the Westin Hotel in the Crown Center Plaza
in Kansas City and dropped us off at the entrance. We walked inside
and to the registration desk and asked where to go. The lady pointed
to the third floor via the escalator. As we walked forward, there were
secret service men and policemen along the balcony overlooking the lobby
area. They were dotted here and there throughout the building. Policemen
were everywhere and not one of them would reveal which room the Vice
President was going to be in.
got rather funny; every time we asked one of them something, they didn't
know. We concluded that they were all pretty much uninformed, kind of
like politicians. It couldn't have been that they were protecting the
policemen whisked by with bomb-sniffing dogs, checking every crevice
and doorway. Bonnie and I looked at each other and burst out in giggles.
"My God," she squealed. "What have we gotten ourselves into?" We didn't
know but we continued on.
lobby was simply beautiful, with a three-story cascading waterfall with
a gorgeous display of live plants and ferns draping along either side
of it. We went to the second floor and received our tickets for the
luncheon and instructions for the photo session. We then went to the
third floor and waited where we could overlook the foyer below and wait
for the arrival of the VP.
event was for Congressman Sam Graves, and his hometown high school band
filed in to play at the luncheon. (They sounded like a normal high school
band, by the way!)
lobby and second floor overlooking it began to fill with more people
than we had ever seen in black suits! Everyone shook hands with everyone
else. Some even commented that others cleaned up pretty good. Since
we were among the very first arrivals, we waited about an hour and a
half before finally being escorted to a private room for the photo session.
Others waited in line ahead of us; we were number thirteen in line.
After waiting over forty five minutes, I got a brief glimpse of the
VP as they whisked him in.
then, there were 59 sets of people, with no more than two allowed in
the picture at once. We were lined along the right wall. There was a
blue curtain draped around the setting so those waiting in line could
not see the VP or the set. The first flash went off and the line quickly
moved up. The second flash, the line moved, just about that fast. When
were about third in line, the security lady said she would need to take
Bonnie's purse and return it after the picture. No one was allowed to
have anything with them as the line moved up.
it was our turn. Bonnie stepped in front of the curtain and I followed.
The set had a blue curtain backdrop with the U.S. flag on a pole on
the left and the Missouri flag on a pole on the right. Sam Graves stuck
out his hand to Bonnie and she moved into position beside the VP and
shook hands. I shook hands with Sam and stepped into place beside him.
We were lined up with the VP, Bonnie, myself and Sam in that order.
As soon as the camera flashed, Bonnie stepped forward and Cheney leaned
forward to look around her and we made eye contact as she walked on.
I think he thought I was going to walk by without stopping. (Boy, was
stuck out his hand and smiled warmly and looked me directly in the eye.
For a split second, we looked at each other and I thought, "My God,
I'm holding the hand of the Vice President of the United States!" He
continued to smile very warmly and I said thank you, smiling back at
him and continued on as the next pair stepped up behind us.
is no way to describe how it feels to be a common, working class person
who has the opportunity to meet face to face and shake the hand of the
second most powerful person in the world who works to protect our freedom
and security at any cost. It was a very humbling yet thrilling experience.
We hurried on to the banquet hall, which was crowded to standing room
only. Our preferred seating had been swallowed up and we were seated
at two different tables.
Several speeches followed and then everyone stood for the introduction
of the Vice President. He gave a very good speech about our great nation,
the war and the need for security and the protection of our freedom.
He spoke with a very even, somewhat soft voice. Several times he made
statements about President Bush and the war on terrorism, and that their
administration would NOT tolerate our country and people being attacked.
He would raise his voice somewhat and deliberately accentuate the word
was very well received and there was the utmost respect for him as he
conducted himself with the dignity we have long admired. As I listened
to his speech, I thought to myself that I would savor every moment.
I may never have this chance again, and thanks to my friend, Bonnie,
I truly had the thrill of a lifetime today.