and some of us were told ahead of time that his motorcade would be driving past the Elementary School on his way out of Seoul. The Community Information Forum I attended a few nights ago included the Main Post’s head of Security, and he told us it would be nothing but a drive by, that Security and the Secret Service together were not prepared to deal with anything more than that, and that having the President get out of the car and wave or anything extra would be out of the question.
I never imagined that the school would take it to the level that they did.
Sure, having the President come to our base is a huge deal, and I am so glad that they wanted to make sure that the kids got to see the motorcade, and that they made banners and waved flags, and all the other stuff to do to show that they love and support their President. These kids were really excited. As we got them lined up they were filled with that glee that you only find in kids that young, as they jumped and cheered “O-BAM-A, O-BAM-A!” for about the first twenty minutes they were outside.
What didn’t happen, though, was the adults in charge, like the Principal and others who organized it, explaining thoroughly enough to these kids what “seeing the President” really entailed. Pretty early on into lining them up the teacher I was assisting and I realized that some of these kids had high expectations. The school was very organized about who got to stand where, and who got to hold the flags and banners, and making sure that everyone was outside in plenty of time for the scheduled passing.
And 45 minutes later we had a couple thousand bored elementary school kids who wanted to know just where the heck the President was.
Have you ever tried to corral 7 years-olds who are simultaneously bored and excited about seeing the President? I must have answered “Where is he?” and “Why can’t I see anything?” a nonillion times, and I resorted to playing “telephone” with them to distract them from poking each other up the nose with their flags while the teacher gave each kid one Smartee for staying in line. Worked OK for a while, and as an aside, the result of starting it off with “rubber baby buggy bumpers” was really funny. But they were not prepared to be bored for an hour. You just can’t do that with kids that young.
Finally the motorcade came … and went.
It was over in a flash.
Faster than most camera holding folk could realize who was in what limo.
That picture at the top? Mine turned out better than most of the other people who showed up. When I cropped the hell out of it I discovered that I accidentally got a decent shot, and that I can actually identify President Obama by his face. Pretty cool.
What broke my heart was seeing Kindergarten and First or Second grade kids crying because they “d-d-d *hiccup* didn’t get to s-s-s-see Obama!”. I was fairly disappointed that this was hyped up as much as it was for these kids who were so. excited.
He might disappoint me at times, but I love the way kids are excited about him.
Of course, I have already seen people all up in arms b/c “the President couldn’t be bothered to stop and get out of the car and wave to 3,000 people”. Yeah, you can tell the people who don’t know WTP is going on. It isn’t like President Obama is sitting down writing these schedules out himself. It was a three ring circus of Base Security, Korean Police, and Secret Service, causing delays and closures all over Seoul. It’s not that simple. He doesn’t just get to get out of the car whenever he damn well pleases.
It wasn’t a total loss. It was exciting. Most of the kids were still excited when the day was over, and most of the people who went were glad to have gone. Next time I hope someone schedules some time for him to stop and say hit to us, the people here because we have to deal with all of that stuff they talked about on CNN today. *shrugs*