Last Friday, everyone in my Agency received an email that President Obama was coming to speak to us on Monday. If we were interested in attending, we were to send in our name for a ticket lottery. I certainly was, and did, and on Saturday was notified that I would receive a ticket. I had to pick it up by 8:30AM on Monday.
Unfortunately, ticket pickup was complicated by the two hour delayed arrival due to weather on Monday morning. While normally a delayed arrival would let me sleep in, I still needed to leave earlier than usual to make sure I got there by the new deadline of 9:30AM. Happily, the weather threat was overblown and I arrived by 8:30.
The auditorium opened at 10AM and after moving through security, we basically sat and chatted for two hours until the President arrived. Everyone was pretty excited. Obama was the first President to visit our agency since FDR almost 80 years ago.
Finally, about ten minutes after noon, the President arrived. After his introduction, there was a burst of Hail to the Chief, everyone stood, and he came to the podium.
He spoke to us as an agency for a few minutes, joking about the lack of Presidential visits and generally being charming. Then he gave a short speech to highlight initiatives he's going to talk about at the State of the Union next week.
After he was done, he moved into the front row, shook some hands and was gone.
All told, he was in the auditorium for less than a half an hour. But it was thrilling to see him so close and it's been the talk of the agency all week. One of my colleagues got a "VIP" ticket and got to shake his hand. I made sure to shake my colleague's hand soon after.
And that's how I saw my first President, live.