Inauguration a thrill for Anthony Moya
Anthony Moya proudly represented Storm Lake High School at the 2005 Presidential Inauguration January 19. By a stroke of luck, he even had the opportunity for a closeup look of President George W. Bush and delivered a "hello from everyone in Storm Lake, Iowa" to the country's leader during the gala parade.
On the blustery day, Bush responded with, "Thanks for your support - and thanks for bringing the cold weather."
The Storm Lake senior, son of Jose and Catherine Moya, commented, "We were ecstatic. It was the icing on the cake."
Anthony was invited to Washington, D.C. to be a part of the Presidential Youth Leadership Conference (PYLC), a program for academically talented and motivated high schoolers. There were some 400 students from around the country taking part in the event. Selection is based on demonstrated academic excellence, extracurricular involvement and strong leadership potential.
Though the PYLC is an annual event, this year's group were fortunate enough to be able to be a part of the inauguration.
"It was a great experience and is something I will remember for the rest of my life," Anthony said.
Prior to the inauguration, the students were briefed on what to expect, including protesters.
They were warned, but still, it was incredible, Anthony said of the protests. "They were protesting everything from 'abortions' to 'Say no forks!'"
Despite the protesters, patriotism prevailed. Anthony and the other students sat among the hundreds of thousands of other Americans watching as the president took his oath of office.
Following the event, the students headed to the parade. Anthony and his friends chose to sit at the corner of Executive and Pennsylvania Streets; behind them was the White House. For most of the parade route President and Mrs. Bush rode in their limousine. They did get out to greet people for a two-block stretch, walking past the spot where Anthony was sitting.
There were 22 inauguration balls but Anthony and his friends opted to stay away from them; it had already been a long day.
Besides the inauguration, the students took part in four days of organized events.
The group took part in their own presidential simulation, going through the same process that candidates do from nomination to debating to speeches to voting to inauguration.
Seeing the sites that have been read about in the social studies texts was a meaningful experience, Anthony said. The group had the opportunity to visit the Iwo-Jima Memorial, Arlington Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and all of the D.C. monuments - Lincoln, Roosevelt, Jefferson, Washington, and the war memorials. "I had an uncle in the Vietnam War and to see those memorials was awesome. And touching all those names inscribed. It was incredible."
They had the chance to cruise the Potomac River aboard the Spirit of Washington.
The students were also invited to the Youth Concert. Performers included artists popular with the young crowd - Hilary Duff, Three Doors Down, Fuel, Ryan Cabera and Jo Jo. There were about 400,000 students in attendance, many taking part in other youth programs.
According to a parent of one of Anthony's friends, he and his friends were caught on the CNN camera as it panned the audience during the event. He and his group caught a glimpse of spoke a few words to Jenna Bush following the concert. Anthony was disappointed that his camera was stuck on the bus.
One of the most important parts of the trip was listening to many speakers who motivated them to continue being leaders.
The group was to have the chance to listen to President Bush speak the night before the inauguration by due to a snow storm that dumped seven inches of snow in D.C., the event was cancelled - but not before the bus load of kids headed to the site and got stuck in snow and traffic for two and one-half hours on the freeway. The group was disappointed they didn't get to hear the nation's leader.
"Throughout the conference I have grown so much in leadership skills and working with others and also meeting awesome friends," he said.
Speakers included Olegario Cantos III, special assistant for civil rights; Ken Coleman, department of treasury; Jordan Sekulow, presidential inaugural planning committee; Gary Crocker, U.S. State Department; Ben Ferguson, syndicated talk show host and author; and Ralf Reed, Bush/Cheney regional campaign director.
Anthony was impressed with all the speakers had to say but likes one of the quotes Coleman shared, "He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is just taking a walk."
Anthony added, "His quote reemphasizes everything I believe."
The Storm Lake senior is a true leader and will continue to be that way as he goes through life. He has grown up believing in himself and sharing his special qualities. "I like being involved in different activities. My mom always said being involved makes a more rounded individual."
He is thankful for the opportunity to attend the leadership conference, at the urging of his parents, and to experience the history.