On Wednesday, March 14, Hamilton students participating in the Program in Washington attended the official welcoming ceremony for David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, on the south lawn of the White House. Sara Feuerstein ’07, a member of the White House staff, arranged for the students to attend this important and traditional event.
With a long-standing alliance between the United States and United Kingdom, the almost two-hour welcoming ceremony included the U.S. Air Force Band, decorated soldiers from every arm of the military and a white-wigged, red-coated Revolutionary War-era band. As students entered the gates of the White House lawn, they were given U.S. and U.K. flags and official tickets from President and Mrs. Obama. While waiting for the President and Prime Minister to give their remarks, students listened to the Air Force band play traditional American songs and enjoyed the excitement of this colorful event.
After attending a NCAA basketball game with the Prime Minister on Tuesday night, President Obama began his remarks by first discussing March Madness and then noted the 200th anniversary of the British setting the White House on fire. He emphasized the strong partnership between the two nations and stated that the alliance is “the strongest that it’s ever been.” Obama continued by stating that “we bleed together, we build together, in good times and in bad,” and ended his remarks by joking about linguistic differences between the two countries, telling the Prime Minister “we are chuffed to bits that you are here.”
Prime Minister Cameron also joked about the War of 1812 and the “unfortunate episode” that took place, but then reaffirmed the importance of a strong alliance, especially in the face of a war in Afghanistan, unrest in the Middle East and a tumultuous global economy. Cameron’s remarks were both insightful and witty, and he ended his speech with a few words he learned at a basketball game the night before, such as “alley-oops, brackets and fast breaks.”