Jordan Hasay: The White House Visit
Monday, September 13, 2010, 8:30 p.m.
Hello and greetings to all from our nation’s capital! It has been quite an exciting day for us here in D.C. Our journey began yesterday in the early morning. Eleven of us athletes along with Assistant Coach Jenni Ashcroft and Director of Operations Nji Nnamani met up at the airport and made the trip across the country. I, along with Coach Jenni, Zoe Buckman, and Anne Kesselring are taking a brief leave from some awesome cross country training in Sunriver, Oregon. It was great to reunite with our current and former teammates after a long summer.
After arriving at our hotel and getting a quick bite to eat, we decided to go sightseeing a little bit before bed. Upon looking at a map, we realized that we were standing right across the street from the White House! It was quite cool to happen to “stumble upon” this historic and magnificent site. We took a few pictures and saw lots of security, whom, rest assured remain there 24/7.
After a good night’s sleep, we all woke up fairly early to start sightseeing and make the most of our time here. A few of us went for a training run around the area. This turned out to be one of those runs that I never wanted to end. The time seemed to fly by as we ran past the Washington Monument, up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial (our hill workout for the day!), over the Arlington Memorial Bridge to the Arlington Cemetery and past the Women in Military Memorial. We finally ended with some strides in front of the National Mall and the Smithsonian.
As I ran, I felt so grateful to be a Duck and to take part in this special opportunity. As we ran past the memorial to Seabees upon which we read the inscription, “With willing hearts and skillful hands, the difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a bit longer,” I felt both inspired and proud to be an American.
In the afternoon, we took part in an eagerly anticipated ceremony at the White House. Luckily, we planned ahead and left our hotel about an hour and a half before the ceremony began. We were one of the first teams of 35 to be admitted onto the lawn. After having our IDs checked by the Secret Service three times, we were greeted by a band playing the various teams’ fight songs, along with several photographers. We posed for a photo on the lawn and then proceeded to some picnic benches for some light refreshments.
One of the security guards had told Nji where President Obama was going to make his speech from and that if we started heading over there early enough we could get a front row spot. So, about an hour before the President was scheduled to arrive, we started to head over to get a spot. Sure enough, as we began to walk over, many other teams followed and it turned into a bit of a sprint to get the best spot.
But being the fast runners that we are, we were able to get the best spot in the house! After securing our spot and standing there for a long hour, President Obama finally arrived. It was such an honor to be able to see him in person and listen to his congratulatory words. To our surprised delight, after his speech, he came down along the ropes and greeted us! We shook his hand, and he even had a conversation with Keshia Baker about going to the Olympics. Regardless of whether or not we agree with his policies, all of us came away from the moment feeling awe struck. We all have had an experience here that we will not soon forget.
Tomorrow we are hoping to go see the Vietnam memorial and squeeze in as much more as we can before returning home. We’d like to thank all those who support us and wish you could have been there to take part in the moment with us. As we return home, each of us feel honored and even more motivated to defend our indoor title, and perhaps earn another invitation back to this historic spot.