MoFed President and Member See Vice President Cheney
April 4, 2002, Kansas City, Missouri

Well, my dear friends, I got to shake the hand of Vice President Cheney today!

It was one of the greatest thrills of my life. I never thought I would get to do something like that!

Lewis 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.

It 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 VP!

Two 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.

The 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.

The 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!)

The 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.

By 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.

Suddenly 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 he wrong!!!)

He 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.

There 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 "NOT".

He 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.

Karen


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