That time I lived through history

June 8, 1991: President Bush greets General H. Norman Schwarzkopf who leads the Desert Storm Homecoming. (David Valdez, Photographer)

It’s a proud day for America. And, by God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.

41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush, was born on this day in 1924.


Yes, I know, we live through history every day. Work with me here.

President Bush delivered those remarks on March 1, 1991 to a gathering of state legislators at an event organized by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the day after he announced a ceasefire and that Kuwait had been liberated from Iraqi occupation. (Read the entire speech here).

I remember that day well, because I was in the audience in the briefing room in the Old Executive Office Building (OEOB).

At the time I was the Meetings and Conventions Director for ALEC, a position I held for eight years, give or take an intermission of a few months that will be addressed in the book.

If that one ever gets written.

Annually we would bring in over a hundred state legislators from across the country to meet with cabinet secretaries and then have an exclusive briefing with the President. The event always kicked off with an Embassy reception. I believe that year was Japan.

This design and more available at Mug Shots (click the pic).

I got to organize this event during the last years of the Reagan Administration and all four years of the George H.W. Bush Administration. The first year of the Clinton Administration we still got to meet in the OEOB, but without the President.

I’m not sure what happened in the following years because I left not long after that.

See aforementioned book for that story.

There are parts of this that I remember vividly, and there are parts that are a blur.

In addition to the U.S. fighting a brief, but successful war, I was fighting my own personal war on the home front.

Just days, I think a week actually, before this speech, I had received the last of my radiation treatments as a follow up to my cancer surgery the preceding December.

Without question it was one of the worst, if not the worst, times in my life. I would never want anyone to have to go through that.

And, as bad as it was, I know that I was very fortunate. The surgery had been successful, and the treatment minimal.

Truth is that it was a year before I finally had the realization that I no longer felt nauseated. That was a great day.

It’s funny looking back and thinking that, in those first few months after the first Gulf War and after my surgery and treatment, I had an entirely different outlook and vision of where I thought I’d be.

Moving back to Richmond wasn’t in the cards. Until it was.

That’s yet another story. I may need two books.

I was chatting online with a friend the other day. We worked a few years at ALEC together. She was asking folks to share their most memorable experience. I’ve relayed mine here. I believe hers was listening to Caspar Weinberger at a similar event.

We were young. We were conservative. We were out to change the world.

We weren’t above having a good time.

That won’t be in the book.

Maybe we made a difference. Maybe we didn’t.

But, those were glorious days to be in DC.

And to think we lived through the Iran Contra hearings and the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court appointment without the Interwebz.

Maybe that’s what they mean by “Good Ol’ Days.”

American actor and singer, Jim Nabors, was born on this day in 1930.


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