George and Laura surprised our wounded soldiers at Fort Hood
They welcomed returning troops from Iraq at USO in Dallas/Fort Worth
This past Sunday, August 22, 2010, they surprised participants in the third annual “Run for the Fallen”.
Dozens of runners took part in the event to honor the 65 military men and women who have died overseas since 2001. When the run was over, everyone gathered at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth for a lobster bake. They were pleasantly surprised with a visit from former President George W. and First Lady Laura Bush. They wanted to thank the runner and organizers for this tribute to the fallen soldiers.
CAPE ELIZABETH — Former President George W. Bush made a surprise appearance at the third annual Run for the Fallen Maine event on Sunday, Aug. 22; the run honors Maine servicemen and women who have given their lives defending the country since Sept. 11, 2001.
Bush showed up at Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth at approximately 4:30 p.m., under drizzling weather.
He greeted runners as they finished the last leg of their 65-kilometer trek from Ogunquit to pay homage to Maine’s 65 “fallen heroes.”
Three-year event participant Nancy Lee Kelley said meeting the former president was “a dream come true.”
Kelley, a resident of Old Orchard Beach and mother of Army Capt. Christopher Cash, who died in Iraq on June 24, 2004, said this wasn’t the first time she had met Bush.
She first met the former president in a schoolhouse in Kennebunkport in August 2006, when he had agreed to meet with five Maine families who lost their children in the war on terror.
Kelley said she was in disbelief when Bush on late Sunday afternoon recalled the exact date and location of the moment they had first met.
“August 2006, Kennebunkport,” Bush told her matter-of-factly when he shook her hand, Kelley said.
After Kelley asked him with a mixture of shock and disbelief if he really remembered her, she said he replied, “Yep. I never forget.”
Ogunquit resident John Mixon, director and coordinator of the event, said Bush actually changed his vacation plans in Maine in order to attend the run.
Bush’s only request, according to Kelley, was to makes sure news organizations were not in attendance.
“It’s not a photo op for him,” Kelley said. “He does it from the heart.”
Event participant Donna Lewis said some people were “in tears” upon Bush’s arrival, and that for a “president who left office with a lot of people angry” about his handling of the war, his reception was warm and welcoming.
“He listened to everyone’s story and acted like it was the most important thing he’s done,” Lewis said.
The run started at Veterans Park in Ogunquit Center at 8 a.m. and continued all the way up Route 1 through Monument Square in Portland to Fort Williams. Participants enjoyed a free lobster bake in Fort Williams.
Mixon said it was hard keeping the former president’s arrival kept secret until the last minute, adding that this year’s turnout for the run was higher than ever before.
“We got to see firsthand what it meant to these families to have recognition that their child had not been forgotten,” said Lewis.