My friend Andrew was most distressed to learn that, when President Obama visited Virginia Beach last week, not one city dignitary graced his visit with a greeting.
Here, posted with permission, is Andrew’s letter to the Mayor and City Council:
I believe a person’s actions confirm their proclamation of respect.
Mr. Mayor, I am appalled at the lack of respect from the leadership of Virginia Beach. Like him or his policies, his political ideology or group affiliation, Barrack Obama is the President of these United States and as such, if nothing else, his station as President of the United States should be respected. He is not my president, he is OUR president. That people think it is acceptable to disrespect the President of the United States is more than troubling to me.
I have seen many comments, political decisions, advertisements, all hailing the greatness of this city and reaching out to welcome visitors. Yet, when the VIP of VIPs comes to this city, who did you send to greet him? Not one city official was there to greet him. It is one thing, an embarrassing moment in itself, that a city of our size, the largest in the state, is void of diversity in its elected leadership. This is an astonishing fact indeed, considering the diversity of the population itself.
In a city that is geared to visitors, we have a Mayor, 10 Council persons, one highly paid City Manager, and a Convention and Visitors Bureau head who happens to be a retired Admiral who should know protocol and not a single one showed up to bring a hand of welcome to the highest office in the land. If you can’t respect the man, at least respect his station, the office of the Presidency.
For you Mayor Sessoms, I would think you would be glad to have a true photo standing with the President rather than the fake photo used to help get you elected.
I have heard your words in speeches and in conversations. Your claims of the zest Ato promote understanding,” and to reach out to the various elements of our city sound hollow. Wouldn’t have been great to see a show of welcome to show to the many that question your motives and intentions. Sir, if your true goal is to “advance understanding”……well? In the immortal words of semanticist, S.I. Hayakawa, “meanings are in people, not in words.” Words have no intrinsic meaning other than meanings that are internalized by each individual. Your lack of presence is an action that speaks volumes!
The citizens of this city, not only, but especially our African American population, should be outraged that the elected leadership of Virginia Beach failed to roll out the red carpet for the President of the United States.
Mr. Mayor, our City Manager, all the Council persons and the head of our Convention and Vistor’s Bureau, I end with this thought: Former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, once said, “To every man [or woman] there comes a time when he [she] is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a great and mighty work; unique to him [her] and fitted to his [her] talents; what a tragedy if that moment finds him [her] unprepared or unqualified for the moment that could be his [her] finest hour.”
To me, the arrogance is astonishing and very repulsive, that our city leadership was tapped on the shoulder and found to be woefully unprepared and unqualified for the moment that could be it’s finest hour!