I live a blessed life. I readily admit that many good things happen to me despite what I do and not because of it. I guess the moto of my life should be: “I would rather be lucky than good.” I have truly been blessed to have had several experiences that I never thought I would get a chance to do. One of those was to be in close proximity to the President of the United States. Not only have I gotten the chance to be in the audience with the President once, but I have had the opportunity three times in the last twelve months.
I must admit that the experience is cool and quite frankly makes most other experiences seem trivial. Yes, I know the current President is polarizing. In many cases you either think he is the best President we have had in a long time or the worst. Honestly, I am not sure where I fall in the spectrum and that is not important. Simply being near the leader of our great nation is an experience I wish everyone could have, no matter what your political beliefs or the political leanings of that particular President.
The first time I was in the President’s presence was last January in Nashville at the American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. Jennifer and I waited in line for several hours just to be in the audience when he addressed the conference. I was about a hundred yards from him and at the time I thought it was a once in a lifetime experience. Boy was I wrong.
Then this December I was given the great honor and privilege of being one of the farmers and ranchers that the President invited to stand behind him as he signed the 2018 Farm Bill. It was a whirlwind trip and one that seemed very surreal. I was contacted on Tuesday, on the plane Wednesday and a few feet behind the President when he signed the Farm Bill on Thursday. I was able to shake his hand and even had the chance to make small talk with the Vice President before the signing.
It was one of the most incredible days of my life and one that really did not seem real. I went through security and was whisked away to do some interviews with reporters on the lawn of the White House. While I was waiting for my turn Vice President Pence and several members of congress walked by, introduced themselves and shook my hand. After that I was taken to the press room in the Eisenhower Building and those of us lucky enough to be invited on the stage were lined up behind the desk where the Farm Bill was to be signed.
The room filled up and it again was a surreal feeling to be in a room with members of the House, Senate and White House, people I see every night on the news. After a wait that seemed like hours the President, Vice President and Secretary of Agriculture came to the podium. I am not exactly sure what was said because I was trying to wrap my head around the idea that I was there, at that very moment. It did not seem real. This I promise you, I will never forget that day and the experience as long as I live.
Then this January I was once again in the audience as the President addressed the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Farm Bureau. I can assure you that even though these three chances happened within a little over a year, the excitement does not wear off. This farm boy from Kansas doubted that he would ever be that close to the President.
Following each experience and especially the Farm Bill signing I have been asked about my feelings. Many people want to know what it was like and others let me know their feelings about the current President, good and bad. What were my feelings and what was my take away from the experience?
First, I am truly humbled and grateful for each experience, again I never thought I would be able to do anything like that. I can tell you without a doubt that it was something I wish everyone of you could do. I would also tell you if you get the chance, do it. No matter how you feel about the President holding the office at the time, go. It was not necessarily the man I was honoring but the office he held.
The individual holding the office of President of the United States is human and because of that they are flawed, even the great ones. However, the office is the most powerful in the world and has been bought and paid for by the sacrifices of all of those who have defended our great nation and because of that it should be honored. I cannot fully describe the feeling of being there, but I will tell you it is like no other and if I am lucky enough to have the opportunity again, you better believe I will take it.