AT ONE POINT, only five feet separated my oldest daughter, Amber, and President Barack Obama on Saturday.
She was among the estimated 15,000 gathered at the Target Center in Minneapolis for Obama’s whirlwind stop to promote his health care reform package.
I expect that at age 23, Amber wasn’t all that focused on the message, but on the speaker.
And who wouldn’t be thrilled to get that close to Obama? He’s the President, the most powerful man in the world, and simply being personally in his presence has to impress.
When Amber boarded the city bus in her south Minneapolis neighborhood around 9 a.m. Saturday for the ride downtown, I ‘m sure she wasn’t expecting to be seated on the bleachers behind the President. But a select group of ticket holders that included Amber and her friend Julie were red-stamped for spots on the bleachers.
They were handed mini-American flags, told to smile and also informed that their behavior would set the audience tone for the event.
Those instructions rankled me a bit, but I suppose if I was organizing the event, I would try to control crowd behavior too. Based on television news coverage, rally organizers got exactly what they wanted—a friendly reception from the Target Center crowd.
As hard as I looked for my daughter in the bleacher crowd, I never did spot her while watching television news coverage. But she was sitting there, behind and to the right of the President about half way up the bleachers.
© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Photos courtesy of my daughter, Amber