Saw Bush over the weekend. What a man, I must say!
I have attended the Army/Navy game every year since 1990. Three times the sitting president has attended since I have gone. The first was in 1996 when Clinton came to the game. He was booed like I have never seen anyone booed before. In 2001, Bush attended the game as President for the first time. He received a very warm standing ovation.
This year he was a spectator once again. His welcome wasn't as entirely warm as in 2001, but it wasn' cold at all. By far the best part of the game (Aside from a gloriously satisfying Navy victory, of course) was the first flyover. Now, don't get me wrong, having attending for over a decade, I have seen my fair share of planes flyover the stadium at the game, but yesterday's first flyover was exceptionally unique. That's because, unlike the usual F-14's, F-18's, Apaches and Blackhawks that slice the sky prior to kickoff, this plane was massive, lumbering and spectacular. It was Air Force One.
I had seen AF1 one time prior to yesterday, and it was simply parked on an airport tarmac with the President nowhere near it. Yesterday, the plane, containing Bush flew directly over the stadium and its awestruck crowd. At what seemed to be the 50-yard line from my vantage point, Air Force One dipped its right wing to the crowd (and the Navy side) before looping around and landing at nearby Philadelphia International Airport. While overhead, Air Force One was able to silence the usually uproarious crowd, a feat that is impressive to say the least, especially to anyone who has attended the game before and has seen the rowdy nature of both Army and Navy.
Once inside the stadium the President was very cordial, meeting and shaking hands with the cheerleaders and other support staff for both teams. Later he tossed the coin (another Navy victory) and sat with the crowd in the seats. Again, this struck me as different since when Clinton had been at the game he had sit in a pretty exclusionary spot, whereas Bush sat with average Army and Navy families (along with his entourage of Secret Service Agents and military personnel).
This isn't a criticism of Clinton, mind you. Since 9/11 I am sure the idea of a shot being taken at the President is of greater concern. Whereas only 8 years ago Clinton was in front and noticeable, Bush was in the crowd without so much as a flag near him to mark his location. An interesting observation to say the least.
Anyway, just thought I would share the story from my weekend with the Pres!