Guest Blog by PMA Member Erick Ajax: What it’s like to attend the State of the Union
PMA Erick Ajax got that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and he wrote all about it to share it with you. Read his memories of that very special day below.
Last week I attended my first State of the Union Address. I was invited by Senator Al Franken - our first term Democrat Senator from Minnesota. Despite the fact that we disagree on many major political issues, the Senator asked me because we clearly see eye to eye on our most important public policy issue, education and workforce development. I’m a third generation business owner in the metal forming industry. And I was honored to attend as the Senator's guest.
Back on the train to the Hart Office building I begin to think about joining the Senator for 45 minutes of media interviews that will air back home on the 6:00pm Minnesota news stations tonight. What am I going to say, I wondered. And what if a draw a complete blank while on camera?
Of course we said, "Yes, that would be just fine!"
The next Senator I met was Charles Grassley. Senator Franken jokes that he met Senator Grassley on the train on his very first day in the Senate. Senator Grassley said that Senator Franken looks just like he does on TV but only shorter and Franken shot back with the same comment but that Grassley actually looks taller in person. My conversation with Senator Grassley quickly moved to his 700 acre farm in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He even invited me to bring my dad down for some pheasant hunting after the harvest next fall.
|PMA Member Erick Ajax with Senator Al Franken (D-MN)|
I spoke with pride to Senator McCain about the dozen veterans my company had hired in the last 3 years. I also shared that my snowbird parents were on their way to Sunny Arizona for the rest of the winter. Soon it was time to head towards the House Chamber to find our seats. When I shook senator McCain’s hand for the night he asked me to do two things. “First, thank each of your veteran colleagues back at work for their service to our country. Second, send my personal welcome to Arizona to your Mom and Dad.”
We soon found ourselves clapping when others were clapping, standing when others were standing. In 2013 there were 31 standing ovations, (this year there were 44) I carefully watched my hero John McCain for the cue to jump to my feet and applaud. I also noticed the former comedian from SNL was peeking over his shoulder checking on his guest up in the peanut gallery for his reaction when he was standing in presidential approval. I am sure that I found reason to stand and applaud at least 25 times!