Friday, July 9, 2010
MEETING AL GORE
In 1996, I was chosen to be a participant in a Town Hall Meeting with the then Vice President Al Gore. My friend Margie Hiermer was in charge of the program for her company Edison Welding Institute. She placed me seated next to the Vice President. It was fascinating to see all of the Secret Service and the security necessary for the Vice President's visit. The Roundtable consisted of a "wonkish" discussion about technology and, of course, the detail-oriented Mr. Gore was in complete control of the subjects and I, because of my robotics background, was in seventh-technology-heaven!
Although the Town Hall Meeting was exciting, I vividly recall the personal details more:
The Vice President was much better looking in person than he was on television. He easily disproved the oft-mentioned criticism that he was "stiff"; with us, he was very warm and gracious.
Before the Roundtable discussion, the Vice President met with the participants to learn our backgrounds. He then opened it up for our questions. I asked, "Mr. Vice President, how is your father?" The Vice President said, "How kind of you to ask." I told him that his father was one of my heroes because, as a Southerner, he was lambasted when he voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Vice President said, "You're too young to remember that." I answered, "I'm older than you, Sir!" As he was leaving, the Vice President came over and hugged me and said, "Thanks again for remembering my father; I'll be sure to tell him."
I didn't mention that his father was also my hero for opposing the Viet Nam War even though his son was serving in Viet Nam at the time. Unfortunately, Mr. Gore, Sr. lost an election, reportedly because of his opposition to the war. Fortunately, when his son returned from Viet Nam and ran for his father's former Senate seat, he won! I always identified with that story because of my opposition to the war while my brothers were serving there. Just as the elder Gore did, I supported the soldiers, but not the war. That subtle difference was not understood by many people.