Today was a crazy day in Busan gearing up for the APEC Summit. I finished pretty late today and headed to E-Mart for a quick dinner. After this blog entry I’m heading to bed for some much needed rest. Tomorrow night will end even later than today did.
I want to reminisce tonight on what happened last Friday when I was still in Seoul. A couple really wonderful things happened; the first I will write about tonight, and the other I’ll recount tomorrow. On Friday evening my wife and I went to a benefit dinner at the Shilla Hotel hosted by the Korean American Association in honor of former President George Bush and Barbara Bush. We were fortunate to have the chance to meet the former president for the first (and probably only) time. The dinner was a fundraiser for the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. Just as they did for the Tsunami Relief Fund, President Bush and President Clinton joined together again to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and to help rebuild the U.S. Gulf Coast region. President and Mrs. Bush came to Korea to raise funds for the relief effort. Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon introduced the President and Mrs. Bush. He speaks eloquently in English, and he laced his speech with lighthearted comedy. President Bush also delivered a great speech. Following the speeches and a toast, we had a wonderful dinner, followed by a couple musical performances, including a rockin’ drum solo by U.S. Ambassador to Korea, Alexander Vershbow. His drumming made the jazzy music just a bit more rock n’ roll. He is such a classy guy.
The evening was laced with reminisces from Bush’ distinguished career, including his distaste for broccoli and headlines-grabbing parachute jump on his 80th birthday. He looked fabulous for a man of 82 years. I can only hope to be so vigorous at that age; heck, I’m not even that active now, and I’m much younger! It’s quite a contrast to last year when I went to the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. and paid my last respects to President Reagan, who wasn’t much older than President Bush is now. The dinner also reminded me of the 1992 Presidential Election, when President Clinton defeated President Bush. During the dinner, President Bush noted his collaboration with President Clinton on tsunami and hurricane relief, and he said, "Just because someone defeats you doesn’t mean he’s your enemy." It’s something I think those working on Capitol Hill should take to heart–Democrats and Republicans. President Bush’ reference to his 1992 defeat reminded me of that Election night so long ago, when I was still dating my future wife. I was a student working at a restaurant on a college campus, and my wife came to visit me briefly. I remember talking to her for a few minutes while I rested my head on my mop handle. I didn’t even watch the election results and didn’t find out until the next day who had won the election. We’ve come a long way in those 13 years since we were in school and working part time. I never would have thought 13 years ago that I would one day be sitting at a dinner with the former President and First Lady. If I could, I would love to be able to my younger self myself about Friday night, I don’t think I would have believed me.