Friday, March 20, 2009

Flashback Friday: POTUS

Another "Flashback Friday," and here is a little story of the past and the present and the "POTUS" (President of the United States). President Barack Obama was visiting southern California yesterday and I (teasingly) asked Ashley if she had seen him while he was out and about in "LaLa Land." She said, no, BUT! Yesterday on her way home from work, she DID see the new president as he was aboard Marine One - the official helicopter of the president, escorted by four more identical helicopters as the president made his way from the Long Beach airport where he landed on Air Force One - the giant 747 and official aircraft of the president. So, not that Ashley technically "saw" President Obama but she certainly saw the large convoy of marine helicopters carrying him to his scheduled meeting place.
Marine One, as well as the other large Marine helicopters, are built by Sikorsky Aircraft (a division of United Technologies where Ralph worked for 33 years and I worked for seven)although a controversial change is on the horizon. Lockheed Martin, in 2005, won the contract to redesign and manufacture the 28 helicopters composing the Marine One fleet at a cost of $6.1 - approximately $4.1 million over budget. Oops!!!!!
(Ok, kids: Can you say 'R-E-C-E-S-S-I-O-N'???)

And I am finally coming around to the "Flashback Friday" aspect...I know, this is me making a short story long...On August 17, 1962, I had the tremendous honor of meeting President John Fitzgerald Kennedy when he arrived in my hometown of Pueblo, Colorado, to dedicate a water project known as the FryingPan-Arkansas Project, developed to benefit the citizens of Southeastern Colorado. In his speech, President Kennedy said, in part, "This (project) is an investment in the future of this country, an investment that will repay large dividends. It is an investment in the growth of the West, in the new cities and industries which this project helps make possible." Some 45 years later, the "Fry-Ark" project has been a success in bringing water not only to the agricultural communities but to private homes in the Pueblo-Colorado Springs area.
No, I wasn't taking notes during his speech (I looked this up) - instead I was focused on the vision of a great and powerful man. I was drawn to the above picture of JFK when doing this post because from where I was sitting on that hot August day in 1962, this was approximately my view. I could have almost reached out and touched him. He was speaking at a podium on the highschool football field; we were seated in rows a mere few feet in front of him. We were "special guests" - part of a highschool group of kids that performed throughout the state to promote the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo. The group was an off-shoot of the Chamber of Commerce, and I was 16 years old.
There was something about President Kennedy that, when you saw him, you knew that here, indeed, was a great man. A year and a half later, when he was assassinated, it was if something extremely special and rare had been taken from us. It's often been said that the death of President Kennedy was the end of the innocence; the end of Camelot. I would agree that this is so.

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