Recalling special Rose Garden event
The death of former President George H.W. Bush on Friday prompts this recollection of him and the first lady, Barbara Bush.
In 1990, I got a call from the Falls Church, Va., chief of police (I was the town’s vice mayor at the time) inviting me to a White House Rose Garden ceremony the following day. It was the anniversary of the DARE program designed to educate sixth-graders about the dangers posed by illegal drugs.
Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates, whose staff developed the program, were flying in from California to enjoy the honors. While Gates brought his entire staff, it was decided to invite local sixth-graders rather than fly students from the West Coast. My daughter, Erica, was president of her sixth-grade class, so was invited and the police chief thought I would enjoy sharing the experience with her.
My seat was in the first row of the Rose Garden, closest to the Oval Office. When the president and first lady walked out, both smiled and shook my hand, then proceeded to the podium to render honors to Chief Gates for the program. At the end of the program, the first lady exited the podium first, and I stepped forward, shook her hand, and said, “good job.” She repeated, “Good job? What the hell did I do?” Such a real and natural person.
The president then approached, patted me on the shoulder, and left. What a guy. What a couple.
Gary Knight, Lexington Park