Merrill Moses is a Team USA water polo goalkeeper who won the silver medal in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
The Visit of a Lifetime
September 19, 2012
Last week I had the honor of visiting the White House with the United States Olympic Team. Roughly 400 2012 Olympic and Paralympic athletes came together from all over the United States for this incredible trip. Most of the athletes flew in on Thursday, September 13, for the White House Olympic and Paralympic banquet dinner and reception. Before the banquet and dinner all the athletes went to get outfitted for the White House visit the next day. We received a jacket, shirt and pants so that we would all look the same in our picture that would be taken at the White House. The jacket that we received was amazing. It reminded me of a football letterman’s jacket, but even better since it had The United States of America on the back and the U.S. flag on the leather sleeves.
After getting outfitted most of the athletes got dressed up and ready to go to the dinner and reception. The United States Olympic Committee made this dinner and reception a very fun and energetic time. It was great to see all the familiar faces from the Olympic Games again and also incredible to meet some of the Paralympic athletes for my first time. The banquet was held at Union Station in a very large room that had big screen projections all around it with highlight pictures from the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The room also consisted of an air hockey table in the middle, a foosball table and a large area for dancing the night away. I will never forget how cool it was to watch the Paralympic and Olympic athletes on the dance floor together boogying the night away. As the United States Olympic Committee always says we are one team with one dream and it was great to have us all together enjoying the great memories of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Not only was the atmosphere incredible, so was the food. They supplied numerous options for us so we could pick and choose what we liked. There was a Taco bar, a slider bar, a soup bar, a cheese table, and a chicken and meat skewers table. My favorite part about the meal was the desert. They brought out a cupcake table that was in the design of an American Flag. I thought this was so cool that I had to attach a picture of it to this blog for my readers. I cannot leave out the amazing ice cream sandwiches as well that they had waiters bringing by on trays. They definitely did not want us to go hungry, but remember they knew they were dealing with Olympic and Paralympic athletes that know how to eat.
The next day was an early morning wake-up because of all the security that we had to go through to get cleared to go into the White House. After three different security check points we were funneled out into the White House South Lawn where there was an orchestra band playing music. We were allowed to take pictures of the front of the White House and go down and check out the White House fountain on the front lawn. After everyone made it through security we were put into the stands that they put out for this special visit. We were organized in teams and then waited for the President, First Lady and Vice President to come out and greet us and give us a speech.
When the President came out, he came out with energy and seemed genuinely excited to be with the Olympic and Paralympic athletes. He and his wife said that they watched the Olympics and Paralympic Games every morning when they were working out on the treadmill and that we amazed them with our talents. He thanked us for representing our country and making him and every other American proud. The President then said that he was told that he did not have time to shake everyone’s hand, but that he thought that what we did was so special that he was going to make time to shake everyone’s hand and thank them for representing our country. I thought this was amazing and he lived up to his word. President Obama and the First Lady and the Vice President lined up and shook every Olympic and Paralympic athlete’s hand and thanked them for their participation. I also attached a picture of me shaking President Obama’s hand for my readers to see. This was a great moment for me that I will never forget.
We finished our White House visit with a brief tour of a section of the White House. Obviously I wish we could see the whole house, but I am sure there are rooms that only the President and his family get to go into. The section that we saw was amazing though. There were tons of painted portraits of past presidents that filled the walls. There was amazing rooms that were decorated with themed colors such as the red room and the blue room. The whole experience was incredible and I want to thank the United States Olympic Committee and the President of the United States and his staff for making this possible. I know that this event was extremely special to all the Olympic and Paralympic athletes.