Edmonds man gets ‘up close and personal’ with the President

Paul Anderson took this photo of President Obama at the University of Washington Thursday.

Edmonds resident Paul Anderson had an opportunity to hear President Barack Obama’s speech Thursday morning at the University of Washington and shared his “up close and personal” experience, as well as photos he took, with My Edmonds News.

By Paul Anderson

I was surprised by a phone call on Wednesday afternoon asking if I wanted to go to the Patty Murray rally with President Barack Obama. They had a VIP ticket for me. How could I say no. How many times do you get to see the sitting President up close. I met with 13 other union carpenters at 6:30 in the morning in front of Hec Edmundson Pavillion so we could get close during the speaches.

I had to go back to my truck and walked by everyone waiting to get into the building. Some had been there since 8 p.m. the night before. By 8 a.m. there was a line from the front of Hec Ed. heading north then bending east around the tennis courts and then south around the backside of the Pavllion almost to the stadium.

The doors opened at 9 a.m. and we had to go through security to enter the building. We were early enough to be in the front row less than 20 feet from the podium. We watched as the building slowly filled for two hours. There wasn’t a spot left for standing or sitting. I had a chance to meet new people from around the area. I gave up my spot to a 6th grade boy who had come with his parents. I asked him if he was excited to see the President and he said he was.

Anticipation was building as the time grew close. We were entertained by a gospel choir and some in the audience got the wave going around. After the Star Spangled Banner was sung, an ex-Marine vet from the Iraqi war led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. The UW student body president welcomed us all to the University of Washington. She introduced the first speaker, King County Executive Dow Constantine. The place began to rock as each speaker rallied the crowd, including U.S. Reps. Jay Inslee and Norm Dicks, Congressional candidate Suzan Delbene and Gov. Chris Gregoire. We were ready for Patty and President Obama to come out and we knew it was soon because the Special Agents had entered.

President Obama entering Hec Edmundson Pavilion. (Photo by Paul Anderson)

When they did come through the curtain, the place erupted. Patty spoke first with shouts of Patty!  Murray!  I didn’t think it could get any louder, but when she finished, the crowd didn’t give her a chance to introduce the President when the place exploded. It was a rousing speach and there were resounding agreements to what he said. When he had finished, he and Patty come down to the floor and started shaking hands. The crowd behind me started to surge forward. Everyone wanted to shake their hands. Some of us were intent on protecting the boy at the front.

I was fortunate to shake both Patty’s and President Obama’s hand. He looked straight at me as he shook my hand, as he did with everyone. I think everyone who left the Pavillion felt the same as I did, with a sense of pride.

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