On September 16, 2007 Emery McClendon, an Amateur Radio Operator from Fort Wayne, Indiana, traveled to Washington D.C at the invitation of "Families United For A strong America" for a three night trip.
Families United is a grassroots coalition of Gold Star and Blue Star families, Veterans, and Americans who share a deep appreciation for our men and women in uniform and support them in their efforts to make America safer by allowing them to complete their mission.
Emery got involved with this group late in 2005 after they contacted him regarding Amateur Radio Military Appreciation Day. (http://www.armad.net/) Emery is the Founder of ARMAD, which was started in 2004 as a way to allow our communities to come out to public places to show verbal appreciation to our Troops, Veterans, Military Retired, and our First Responders.
The trip departed on Sunday morning with arrival at Reagan National Airport, and The Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City. On Monday morning there was a welcome breakfast at the Sheraton Hotel with distinguished guests. After the breakfast there was a private tour of the Pentagon, and I was able to also promote ARMAD and pass out information to the Pentagon staff for posting. After the tour we went to Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath ceremony with General Peter Pace, Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff.
On Tuesday morning our group was invited to breakfast at The White House with President and Mrs. Bush on the South Lawn. Also present was Vice President Chaney, Condolesa Rice, and others from the Administration.
During the White House visit I was able to speak with The President, and shake his hand. I also took a photograph with Mrs. Bush. I spoke with the White House Staff about ARMAD and was allowed to leave information about ARMAD. Several staffers express interest and praise for the project. Following the White House visit I went to the Capital and spent almost two hours with my Congressman. He escorted me to the private section of the Galley and I was allowed to sit in the section reserved for the Speaker of the House family to observe the activities on the floor. After the trip to Capital Hill there was a huge press conference at Upper Senate Park, and a dinner at the MArine Corp Museum located at Quantico.