On Feb. 18, one of Forbes magazine’s most boring city in America was rocking and rolling as we were honored to have President Barack Obama in the house at Dobson High School to share with us and America his plans to address the growing number of home foreclosures that’s become an albatross for many.
People stood in line Sunday night in cold temperature in order to receive one of about 500 tickets given out to the general public and a few of those same people camped out again on Tuesday night in order to get good seats to see our commander-in-chief.
I was lucky enough to cry, plead and beg and even promise to name my first child after this angel — and also said that I would have their name tattooed on my body since at 57 my first child was only an after-thought. As a result, I was given a VIP ticket front and center behind Gov. Jan Brewer, state Attorney General Terry Goddard and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and his lovely wife. The mayor and I joked that I was acting as his unofficial secret Service.
Dobson’s gym west bleachers were packed and I notice quite a few young people which I thought was fitting supporting our young president. I have to say that the media set up areas took up half of the gym with large groups staging in the back and entire east side of the gym. The gym was filled with loud chatter and conversations with tons of photos by camera phone and camcorders as we waited patiently for the arrival of the president. A few song selections were sung by a group of Dobson High students.
The invocation was given by Austin Nunez, a Native American clergyman who blessed the crowd with a giant feather, the Pledge of Allegiance was given by Bernie Abeytia, a Marine Vietnam veteran but what we saw next was indeed a Kodak moment as 21-year-old Jessica Rojas, who was led out on the stage by her mother as it became apparent that she was blind. Folks, I’ve witness a lot of national anthems being sung in my lifetime, but missy, you rocked and I hope someone reading this shares my comment.
The gym again turned to chatter and conversations as it would be still a few more minutes before the president appeared although he was waiting somewhere inside. I decided we needed to let Obama hear just how the most boring major city in America really can represent so I became the world biggest cheerleader and shouted out “Who do we want?”
The crowd shouted “Obama.” “When do we want him?” They responded, “now.” I shouted “Mesa loves” and the crowd shouted “Barack Obama. We all shouted “Obama! Obama!” and then he was announced and walk out on the stage to rock-star applause and standing ovations to share his foreclosure plans.
Afterwards I was so close I was able to shake his hand and asked him to give me a smile to which he gave me a big Kool-Aid smile as I took this close-up photo and then he said nice cowboy hat and moved on.
Wow, I only wish I got that comment on tape. What a great historic day for the most boring city in America and its proud Mesa residents, and one that will be a forever in the heart and memory bank of President Barack Obama and Mesa, Arizona’s biggest cheerleader.
John Goodie of Gilbert is a Mesa park ranger.