June 19, 2007
by Kristi Miller – Today was my first real visit to Washington, DC. It’s kind of sad that this is my first time, since I am a history major … but nevertheless I was excited that my first time there would include meeting the President of the United States of America! The day was jam-packed, exhilarating and tiring all at the same time. Let me break it down to show you what I mean:
6:40 a.m. – I was about to hit the snooze button when I remembered what today was! I popped out of bed and turned my music on while getting ready for the big day.
7:10 a.m. – The time we were supposed to leave from the apartments to head to campus … but Kirsten (Flower) wasn’t done beautifying herself yet.
7:16 p.m. – Out the door and rushing to get to the Coliseum on time. We made it (just barely) and hopped on the tour bus waiting to take us to the airport. Talk about glamorous!
9:30 a.m. – Our Airtran flight leaves from Atlanta. Everybody looks beautiful and is ready for the big day! This is my first real excursion since my wrist surgery, so I felt a little faint during the flight. Luckily I started to feel better quickly and got off the plane ready for some lunch!
11:28 a.m. – We make our way from the Airtran terminal over to the U.S. Air terminal where we pick up Robin (Stephenson) and are reunited with Amanda Craddock! The others have been in Atlanta all summer, so everyone is laughing and talking fast, sharing recent news. We all hop on the New World Charter Bus that will take us around Washington DC!
12:10 p.m. – Lunch at Marvelous Market at Capitol Hill. It’s so good. It is owned by our operation director (Ethan Shapiro)’s brother, Seth. After selecting our lunch from inside, he brought us extra salad and dessert, and we sat outside in the 90+ degree weather to eat. We then took pictures before returning to our wonderfully-air conditioned bus.
1:30 p.m. – Time to see some history! We drive past the Washington Monument, Capitol Building and various Department buildings, but the driver lets us out to see the WWII Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. We are all sweating from the walk, but it is so worth it! We saw the 4,000 stars representing the 400,000 people who died in WWII. The whole memorial is such a beautiful tribute to the war effort. Being a geek, I grabbed a brochure and read up on each part’s significance … There is one pillar for every state and one pillar on each end representing the two oceans we fought on. The Lincoln Memorial did not disappoint either. We began by getting some Italian Ice halfway between the two memorials to cool us down, and took a photo with the Washington Monument and Capitol in the background before climbing the steps to the Lincoln Memorial. It is such an awe-inspiring statue. We took a picture in front of it and look so small and insignificant in comparison.
2:15 p.m. – We patiently wait on the bus (okay, maybe it was more impatiently) at the gate to the White House before being escorted onto the grounds.
3:00 p.m. – We get checked by security and are then led through Mrs. Bush’s garden and through the White House hallways into the Map Room. President Bush later tells us that this room was where President Roosevelt (FDR) came to this room to follow the ongoings of WWII. One more thing that we saw on the way to the Map Room: the President’s dog!
3:30 p.m. – Our guide has put us in position for our picture with the President. Ali (Silverio) has the gifts out and ready to present to him on our behalf.
3:32 p.m. – Unbelievable! President Bush walks through the door greeting us as the Rambling Wreck! He looks everyone in the eye and welcomes us all individually with a handshake. He goes on to congratulate us and asks about where we won the championship before asking about our seniors. He quickly notices Tarryn (Rudman)’s accent and asks about her origin (noting that it certainly wasn’t from Georgia or Texas!) Everyone is a bit nervous … but what a once (and hopefully more!) in a lifetime opportunity! We present him with the gifts that we brought and the photographer takes a few pictures of us with the President.
3:40 p.m. – Our team is escorted onto the White House Lawn via the Rose Garden to the band playing the Ramblin’ Wreck fight song. We head on over to the refreshments tent for something to drink, as we are parched.
4:30 p.m. – Everyone takes their seats for the President’s address. We are in the back row, behind an extremely tall University of Nebraska volleyball team. I can’t help but stand in my chair to catch a glimpse as President Bush arrives.
4:45 p.m. – President Bush addresses the NCAA Champions. Ali, as our captain, gets to walk out with him and stand on stage, which is very exciting. The President thanks us for our leadership roles and congratulates everyone again. He briefly talks about each team and sends us off with God’s blessings.
5:00 p.m. – We take a few quick pictures before heading back to the bus. We are tired and sweaty from our long day outdoors.
6:00 p.m. – There is thankfully no traffic, so we get to the airport early. We eat dinner and wait at our gate. Most of us called to speak to our parents and trade digital cameras to look at our pictures from the day.
9:00 p.m. – Finally in the air after a bit of a delay, we are still excited from the day but happy to be heading home.
10:50 p.m. – We leave the airport headed back to campus. What an amazing day and a wonderful reminder and celebration of what we accomplished as a team!