Ushering At The National Prayer Breakfast

February 9, 2010

(note: unfortunately I was unable to take any photos, as no cameras were permitted to be at this event.)

It began Monday evening. After work in Baltimore I hopped on a MARC commuter train and rode it down to Washington D.C. There I attended a training to be an usher at the 58th Annual National Prayer Breakfast. I sat in a sea of suits and ties, hearing about the history and story that is the National Prayer Breakfast. As the meeting finished, I left feeling excited and looking towards Thursday morning with great anticipation.

Late Wednesday night, I found myself sleeping on a couch in the California Suite of the Washington Hilton. A friend of a friend’s parents helped secure me a place to sleep. I laid there thinking about the next morning. I set my alarm for 4:30am, and prepared myself to begin the day at 5am.

The next morning was full of reunions. A few very good friends of mine flew in from various different locations around the world. Together we spent the morning greeting national and world leaders as they walked through the international ballroom doors.

The keynote speaker for the morning was Hilary Clinton. And, I have to tell you, Secretary Clinton’s speech was absolutely phenomenal. Themes of her speech included: the empowerment of women and girls around the world, the feeling of simultaneously experiencing both humility and honor, the divisiveness of religion, the significance of her own personal faith, the strength that comes through being in fellowship with one another, and the necessity of finding common ground, focusing on our similarities rather than our differences.  This last point was demonstrated through an anecdote that she told about the National Prayer Breakfast the year that Mother Theresa was the keynote speaker.

Secretary Clinton’s theme of finding common ground tied in perfectly with the remarks that President Obama would give next, his main message focused on the idea of civility. He charged the room telling the breakfast guests, “Surely you can challenge my policies without questioning my faith, or for that matter, my citizenship.” He continued, “Challenging each other’s ideas can renew our democracy.  But when we challenge each other’s motives, it becomes harder to see what we hold in common.”

Both Secretary Clinton and President Obama’s speeches were fabulous. As well as civility Obama also covered a number of topics, discussing the earthquake in Haiti, as well as mentioning the brokenness of our Immigration System.

The breakfast was an incredible experience, and I felt honored to be there. This experience is one that will surely be a major highlight remembered from my year as a volunteer.

Unfortunately I’m having a lot of trouble tracking down Secretary Clinton’s Speech online, but Click Here To Read President Obama’s Speech.

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