MAUREEN BURNS: All the Presidents men … and women


By Maureen Burns • Last Updated 9:28 pm on Friday, February 17, 2012

Maureen Burns

That is a quote from Christina Beckman, 20, of Greenville. She introduced President Obama as he spoke recently at the University of Michigan.

“This was a dream come true and something I’ll never forget! It’s one of the best days of my life and I’ll be talking about it forever.”

“President Obama asked me how school is going for me and what I am majoring in. It was a very normal conversation. He said, ‘I can tell you’re going to do a great job … see you up there.’ That comment was one of my favorite memories of the whole experience! Regardless of political affiliation, meeting the president and getting a chance to speak with him is an honor. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and something almost anyone would be happy to be a part of!”

As I chatted by email with Christina, I wondered about other people I knew and if they had had personal encounters with United State presidents. Wow, I never expected so many responses. It proved my theory true, that these encounters stay with us forever — imbedded colorfully in our minds.

Some weren’t so excited. Marty Schoolcraft said, “I saw a president once in California, but I can’t remember who it was.” Then, later, she remembered. “Oh, yeah, it was Nixon. I think I’ve tried to forget it.”

Barb DiGiovanni, in Illinois, said, “I met Hubert Humphrey once … a golden memory I’d like to forget.” These reminded me that my husband went into a men’s restroom and saw a sign above the urinal which read, “Deposit Goldwater here.” That was during the presidential race of Goldwater and Johnson.

Carolyn Frye was a stewardess for United Airlines and chosen to work the charter flight for Spiro Agnew as he was running for Vice President with Nixon. She talked with him quite a bit and he reminded her to vote as he got off the plane.
I have known Gary Borton for many moons and he has often talked about how his MSU commencement speaker was President Harry Truman and how tremendous he was. Recently, Gary and Connie visited the Truman Presidential Library to cap off this great memory.

President Obama greets Michigan sophomore Christan Beckman with a kiss on the check after she introduced him to an audience of 3,000 at the Al Glick Fieldhouse on Friday morning. — Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com

Margaret Miller, my beautiful friend in Edmore, said, “My aunt used to lunch at the White House with Mamie Eisenhower. They were college friends.” Even though it didn’t happen to Margaret, I thought it was a great story and proves, once again, these encounters are proud memories that pass through our generations.

When World War II ended, General Dwight Eisenhower was courted by both Republicans and Democrats to run on their ticket for president of the country. He refused and became president of Columbia University. Gerry Malling, of Greenville, was a student there. Eisenhower would come in each month and talk with Gerry’s class of 25 students. Ike shared his war experiences and was very laid back, friendly and patient. He often said he had a fear of a military-industrial-congressional -complex becoming a reality in peacetime. In 1952 he was elected U.S. President as a Republican. At his farewell address, he again warned of the danger of a military-industrial-complex, but he left out the word “congressional “. His advisers said it might offend too many congressmen with military contractors in their districts. How very interesting!

Harriette Cook, a New York girl, saw Eisenhower in 1953 in Manhasset Long Island, riding in a convertible in his military uniform, waving as he campaigned for president. “Amazingly impressive and I still have the visual in my mind.”

This is the first in a three part series. I’m going to close this part with something Steven Wright said, “When they asked George Washington for his ID, he just took out a quarter.” We gotta end with a laugh, right?

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is maureenburns@maureenburns.com.

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