Posted by: marthabernie | October 2, 2012

ST. PATRICK’s DAY in the WHITE HOUSE – Part Two

As I mentioned yesterday, I was invited to the St. Patrick’s Day celebration of Irish American ties on March 17, 2008 in the White House.  We arrived early and were allowed to wander around the East Wing, taking photos.  However, as the official start time neared, we were ushered into the East Room by Secret Service agents and security became very tight.  The East Room is the room you see on television when there are PBS concerts and such.  There are very large portraits of George and Martha Washington hanging on either side of the dias, and an antique Steinway with beautiful inlaid wood and gold decorations was sitting to the left of the podium.  The program included Irish bagpipers and dancers, and after a few minutes prelude, Hail to the Chief was played and President and Mrs. Bush, along with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, entered the room down the central aisle.  As you can see, there were news photographers, and the official White House photographers recorded the event.  I was surprised we were allowed to take photos, but everyone was snapping away, and after going through stringent, state-of-the-art security at the gates, I guess they don’t worry about cameras and cell phones!

The two men went to the podium and Mrs. Bush sat down right in front of me!  One thing sturck me immediately, and that was that Mr. Bush is taller than I anticipated!  He opened the remarks, then turned the podium over to Mr. Ahern.  Each year the Irish government presents a one-of-a-kind piece of Waterford crystal to the president (there are several of them scattered around the East Wing with other historical artifacts!), and this year’s large bowl was filled with shamrocks.  See photos below.  Mrs. Bush came into the East Dining Room and make sure the reception was in order, then the President, Mrs. Bush and Mr Ahern went on to other endeavors.  I met Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley briefly, but not at the same time and not in the same room!  Paisley was passing through, Gerry Adams stayed around for most of the reception.

The day was obviously one of those things I will never forget!


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