It was an immense honor to be among the military bloggers present. Aside from John Donovan of Castle Argghhh! and Ward Carroll of Military.com, I'm not sure who else I can mention that was there.
I'll have a bigger, more improved post about the meeting, later this week, maybe Monday. Photos too...
Yes, it was surreal sitting in a meeting with the President and then having him ask us what we thought of the Oval Office.
But it was very cool. The President of the United States slapped my hand and called me "brutha". Top that.
Anyway, he also kidded Bill Roggio and Bill Ardolino (two of my personal heroes who were in Iraq attending the meeting via teleconference) for not wearing ties...they were wearing Under Armor shirts and Ardolino looked like a freakin' rock star. It was good to see them again.
The President, War Czar LTG Doug Lute, Tony Snow, Dana Perino, Stephen Hadley, and others were in the room too.
I was able to shake Tony Snow's hand and tell him "You were there when we needed you..." He responded by pointing at Dana Perino while I shook her hand and saying "She is too..."
The President was very intelligent, razor sharp, warm, focused, emotional (especially about his dad), and genuine. Even more so than this cynical Chicago Boy expected. I was overwhelmed by the sincerity - it wasn't staged.
The one thing that he made sure was accomplished in the hour he spent with us was to say "Thanks."
It made four years of slugging away at telling the truth, four years of having my life and my family threatened, four years of listening to lies go unanswered about my brothers and sisters in combat (except by us), four years of spending valuable time and money in defense of something that should not need my presence...ah, you get the idea.
For an hour today, it made it all worth it. He just wanted to say "Thanks, friend."
Fate would have President Bush leave us to go talk to newly minted Second Lieutenants commissioned today at Quantico...simply because...in his words..."they signed up knowing full well they'll be in combat..." As he walked to Marine Corps One, he waved at us...the press not sure who we were, didn't know what to do...they kept the cameras on him. Good move. I kind of think that the President enjoyed that.
I'm flying back to Chicago and spending a night out with Mrs. Blackfive who spends enough time without her husband (even with Presidential requests for meetings). I need to tell her "Thank you." for letting me do what I do.
I'll end with this. Not about the President of the United States. But about our Marines. He'd agree with this thought...
My numero uno comprade, Uncle Jimbo, like many, many writers, in some way, compares the Marines to the 300 Spartans who stood at Thermopylae 2500 years ago. Many will say that the US Marines are the Spartans of our age. You might say that's fair enough. But I say...
Those Spartans who gave their all at Thermopylae were the United States Marines of their age. I think that they had no idea of what it would take to defend the democracy that they died to create. Again...it is worth it.
More to follow...Thanks to the Blackfive readers who've made this day possible.