Troop 62 HomeWe met the President

By Tait Militana

Special to the Press

"Thank you for being scouts." I never knew such humble words could contain so much meaning. Spoken by President George W. Bush as he shook my hand, an inane, boyish feeling fell over me as I muttered back a short thank you in return. And on a day in which Wyatt Schroeder, Jason Kuklinski, and I witnessed the beauty of democracy, I could not help feeling turgid with pride about being an American.

In reality, our opportunity to meet the President was quite remarkable. George W. Bush was set to make a campaign stop at the Boeing plant in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania to thank the Boeing workers for their outstanding construction of the Chinook rotorcraft, an advanced helicopter used in the War on Terror. Two days before the scheduled arrival, Boeing called Gary Schroeder, Wyatt's father and president of Chester County Council, requesting three scouts to lead

the Pledge of Allegiance. Wyatt, Jason, and I were contacted the same day and were told that on Tuesday August 17, 2004, we would witness the president speak in person.

Classed as performers, we arrived before the general admission. Security was indubitably tight, as even beyond the metal detectors, secret service members were constantly on the prowl. And, as the plethora of entertainers invigorated the sun-fatigued audience, the faces of the agents grew stern, sending a clear message that the President was near and that now was not the time for games. Then it was our turn. Taking the stage, we all stood with pride as Wyatt venerably recited the words of the Pledge of Allegiance into a nearby microphone. And as we retreated, the grins on our faces were not from standing in front of the 8,000 in attendance, but for the growing anticipation of the President's

arrival. The press took their positions, the snipers commanded their posts, and out strolled the relaxed, yet smiling President. Greeted by chants of "Four more years," President Bush commenced his speech with a bit of humor, noting that he often visits Pennsylvania for its famous cheese steaks. He continued his speech, calmly leaning against the podium, to an awed and grateful crowd. Touching on topics such as education, the economy, and the War on Terror, President Bush was often interrupted by bursts of applause; and as his speech concluded, a cacophony of whistles, shouts, and chants created a deafening ovation, only to be augmented as the President began to round the stage.

Shaking hands and signing autographs, President Bush made his sojourn much more personal. And as he advanced towards the three scouts standing among the audience, an anonymous

Jason, Wyatt and Tait lead the Pledge of Allegiance at President Bush's visit to Boeing.

shout bellowed from nearby. "Mr. President, we have some Eagle Scouts over here!" Flanked by secret service agents and smiling, he approached, shook our hands, signed autographs, and sincerely thanked us.

Most who witnessed the speech stood a little taller that afternoon, but for three boy scouts from Troop 62 the day was especially sweet. Being thanked by the president is a memory that is comparable to none, and I know that for the three of us, it is one that will never subside.

Courtesy of the Chester County Press

Photo Gallery