Friday, February 5, 2010

Ambassador to Ambassador

I am an Alzheimer’s Ambassador and will participate in Memory Day later this month. On this special day, hundreds of Alzheimer’s advocates converge on the state capitol to discuss Alzheimer’s impact on the state of Missouri.

Besides being an Alzheimer’s Ambassador, I am a grassroots advocate for rural electric cooperatives. Earlier this week, my coworker, Brenda, and I participated in the legislative conference and visited our legislators on behalf of Central Missouri Electric Cooperative.

After a breakfast meeting, we trekked up the hill to the capitol. We took a shortcut through the Truman Building and stopped for a cup of coffee with my brother who works there. When we moved on to the capitol, we met other advocates leaving who informed us that everyone was on the floor, so we probably wouldn’t get to see our representatives. We dropped off cards at our representative’s offices and stopped at the office of Senator Delbert Scott.

“He’s in his office but is headed to the floor,” his legislative aide said.

The senator stopped to shake hands with us. “Would you like to walk with me?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said. “We will do a walk and talk.”

We discussed cooperative issues while we walked down a flight of stairs. When we reached the “Admittance by Invitation Only” door, he invited us in. He pointed to a bench and told us to sit there as long as we wanted. We wrote our names on a form, and settled in to see how the senate works.

Before long a group of oriental people came through a side door. A distinguished looking gentleman sat next to me on the bench while several others stood behind us. All cameras were trained in our direction. That really made us feel special.

Brenda and I took off our coats exposing our photogenic sweaters—mine a bright blue and Brenda’s a stunning tangerine. We looked like peacocks in a room of dignified dark suits.

Senator Scott introduced Brenda and me as his special guests. We stood to be recognized. The senate president pro tem stood to introduce Zhou Wenzhong, Ambassador from China, who was visiting Missouri in regard to St. Louis becoming a trade hub.

The distinguished gentleman to my right stood and the Missouri version of paparazzi kept their cameras rolling. I wanted to shake his hand, but wasn’t sure about Chinese protocol and didn’t want to offend him.

The senate recessed to visit the Chinese Ambassador in the lounge. The ambassador stood to leave, but turned to me and extended his hand. “I’m pleased to meet you,” he said. After our handshake, he shook hands with Brenda.

Another man in the group shook hands with us too. “I don’t know who you are,” he said, as if he should have, “but I’m sure you are honorable people to be here.”

For just a moment, I was taken aback, and felt like a star-struck gate crasher. Just by chance, Brenda and I experienced a historical moment in Missouri history.

We were on the evening news and our moment is caught on a State of Missouri archive tape. As a friend of mine said, “You’ve had one minute of fame and fourteen more to go.”

I don’t expect anything like this experience to happen again. What are the odds that another foreign ambassador would be at the Missouri State Capitol at the exact moment I am there?

It is likely that several Alzheimer’s Ambassadors will be among the hundreds of advocates visiting the state capitol on Memory Day. Some of the ambassadors are already my friends, and I will meet more at the state capitol. One thing is for sure, their participation in Memory Day is proof they are honorable people.
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