I saw President Obama give his first public speech in Europe this morning. It was in front of Prague Castle which is kinda in my back yard. Just a 5 minute ride on the metro and a tram (or walk) up the hill and you are there. When I woke up this morning I had no intention of going. I looked at my clock at 6:20, rubbed my eyes and said, “what the hell.”
Like I said, it was easy getting there. I decided to walk rather then be the last clown attempting to squeeze in the car – or tram – as the case may be. 15 minutes later I was in a group of people waiting to go through security. I found some friends in the horde and we joked around until we were herded through the gates.
It was set up like a concert. Since it’s Prague there were stands selling sausages and beer. But non alcoholic beer this time. We can’t have any drunk assholes during the Presidents speech, now can we. There were port-o-potties, and about three huge screens so that little folk like myself could see what was going on and not just the backs of peoples heads. I appreciate little details like that. There was a huge swing camera taking shots of the crowd and people waving flags – both Czech and American. It felt kinda like the big dance scene in Grease when the the kids notice the camera and crowd around it waving.
I lost my friends as quickly as I found them and settled into a spot on a hill. While we all waited, a cool little Czech Blue Grass band entertained us, and I listened in as two Czech men and an American woman discussed Czech pacifism and what a total lame ass Klaus is. It was more entertaining than the music. During this time (from about 8-10am) I noticed how everyone in attendance was very excited and happy to be there. No one was protesting. No one was disruptive, except maybe the losers from Green Peace with their signs, but I ignored them right along with everyone else. It seemed that everyone there was really positive and chill.
When the band stopped playing we were treated to various up-beat pop songs by such internationally popular bands as U2, Kanye, and Earth Wind and Fire. I think one of my favorite moments was when Czech President Vaclav Klaus walked out to “Touch the Sky” by Kanye West. The Czech guy behind me was laughing and saying – “I bet Klaus thinks this is all for him”. He also said that the late start was due to Klaus forcing Obama to listen to him read from his book. I liked that guy.
Obama walked to the stage with beautiful Prague as his back drop with his lovely wife at his side. They waved and smiled and people cheered. No one booed. No one.
The speech itself was awesome. He talked of Czech history and the Prague Spring. He talked about being in Prague and how important it was for him to be there. He talked of the youth of todays Czech Republic being leaders and how we need to look at the past for leadership. He spoke at great length about his resolve to stop the use and production of Nuclear weapons and how America can and will lead the charge in combating Global Warming…ah, I mean Climate Change. He was perfect. He even managed to say a few things in Czech. And the crowd goes wild.
When he was done I scurried out like a little bunny on speed. I think I beat the rush too. I turned around and saw hundreds of people behind me and just kept walking. While I was riding the Metro home I realized that for the first time in years, I felt pride for my country. I just saw a man, The President, give a speech and i was not left with an embarrassment or a need to deny my nationality. I was left with a feeling of hope and general glee. And, I must admit, kind of a crush.
Sorry Mr. Clinton. I think you’ve been replaced.