At the store we have three books by Bill Clinton:
- My Life
- Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World
- Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy
When I was in elementary school, then-Governor Bill Clinton visited Jessieville School. It was a big deal. The GOVERNOR was visiting our teeny tiny school. For lunch, the teacher’s tables were carefully arranged to provide him a place of honor. Yet, when lunchtime arrived, Bill Clinton grabbed his tray and joined the kids at their tables. I don’t remember what was discussed or what we ate, but it was my first glimpse of someone who knew how to reach the masses (even if we couldn’t vote!).
Moving forward into high school, I was preparing to join People to People on an American-Soviet Youth Exchange. Around the same time, I also had been voted in as State Land Commissioner at Arkansas’ Girls State. (Before you think I’m tooting my own horn, let me clearly add the I was the ONLY state officer not nominated for Girls’ Nation. Something about not taking the race seriously enough. …) When Governor Clinton joined us for the inaugural ceremony, I asked if he could give us anything for the upcoming trip to the Soviet Union. Within days, our entire delegation had been designated as Official Ambassadors of Goodwill. Again, he had taken time to listen and respond.
And then we move into college. Arkansas’ Bill Clinton played his saxophone and played his way into the hearts of enough voters that he was elected President of the United States. The next thing you know, my father, Ron Coleman, was preparing small high-quality quartz clusters on a base of novaculite for a luncheon at the Senate Press Gallery in Washington DC. To ensure everyone knew the Arkansas connection to both stones, a request had been made for a small pamphlet to be included in the packet. My father called his journalism-inclined daughter, and I was honored to write the piece. Beyond that, the family received an invitation to attend the inaugural events, and one of my girlfriends and I gleefully went. Thanks to our excitement amidst seasoned journalists from around the world, we were pulled out of the line and received press passes to EVERY event available. No more passes to the Arkansas Ball were available, however, so we attended the Tennessee Ball instead. When President Clinton appeared, he looked directly at me, cocked his head to the side, and waved. He wasn’t sure who I was or why I was at the Tennessee Ball, but he knew he recognized me.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with his policies and/or his life choices, one would be hard-pressed to deny his charisma or his intelligence. Each time I met him, he left an indelible impression. Had he never become president, I would still remember the governor who chose to sit amongst the kids with his lunch tray.