An encounter with the presidentThe Gronholz family of Alexandria, Eric, Sara and Emma, had a very exciting trip to Washington, D.C. this past October – one that included an unexpected encounter with President Barack Obama.
By: By Heather Huwe, Intern Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
The Gronholz family of Alexandria, Eric, Sara and Emma, had a very exciting trip to Washington, D.C. this past October – one that included an unexpected encounter with President Barack Obama.
Here is how it all happened:
The Gronholzes were planning a trip to D.C. to watch their nephew graduate from Marine officer school.
Sara had reconnected with a college friend through Facebook. He is a Secret Service agent and said he could help set up activities for them to do while on their trip.
He led them through a tour of a presidential garage. They were able to see the president’s and vice president’s limousines and the motorcade vehicles.
Their daughter, Emma, who was 8-years-old at the time, got close enough to the president’s limo, “The Beast,” to get a dirt stain on her pants. It’s now a cherished souvenir.
They also were able to tour the West Wing of the White House with a different Secret Service agent. The West Wing entrance is where visitors for the president enter.
The agent gave them a tour of the Cabinet Room and the Roosevelt Room, which they were not able to enter.
The door to the Oval Office was closed but the agent said that if the president was in the office, a Marine would be standing near the door. There was not a Marine present.
While peering into another room, Emma said she saw the president walking out of the hall. At first, they were unsure if this was true.
Then, while looking at photos near a stairway, they saw the president walk up the stairs in a polo shirt, khakis and sandals.
He shook Emma’s hand first, which made quite an impression, and then proceeded to give everyone else a simple welcome.
The president later went into the Oval Office briefly, but walked out and said another good wishes farewell.
The Gronholz family described the president as “taller and leaner” than they had imagined. “He was like a basketball player,” Eric said, adding that the environment in the White House was very calm.
After meeting the president, the Gronholzes toured the Rose Garden, saw First Lady Michelle Obama’s garden and also visited the press briefing room, which they were able to enter.
Sara described the trip as inspiring because they were able to see the places where history is made. Eric added that the design of the White House showed a practical use of size and space.