I had to see the "This Day in Milwaukee History" item today on OnMilwaukee.com to remind me that it was three years ago that President George W. Bush visited our office.
The visit is still rather fresh in my mind. In fact, even now I hardly go three weeks without someone asking me about it. To have the leader of the free world visit a business that you helped start and work at, passionately, each day was simply amazing. The security, the process, the hassles, the opportunity, the worldwide press -- all equally interesting.
It's still hard to crystallize the day and my thoughts of what truly happened at our old office on North Avenue on May 19, 2005. Here though, are my biggest memories and take aways:
All politics aside (and trust me, there were people here who probably loathed the visit), he's the President and we got to spend nearly three hours talking, touring and hanging out. Most people will never get this opportunity.
The security was coordinated and focused. Blocks away and hours before the visit, even at the Alterra on Prospect, I saw Secret Service at their post. The costs and logistics are mind-boggling.
The name calling, post visit, was humorous to say the least. We got called every name in the book by the talkbackers and general public. We were "token right wingers," "opportunists" and "too this and too that." Whatever. You don't know me or us. We had the President stop at our office. You didn't.
The praise and congrats, though, were overwhelming. The media calls, e-mails from friends and family -- both were nonstop for about 12 hours and continued for months.
Again, all politics aside, one-on-one, Bush was great. Engaging, personable and intelligent. When he did, though, slip into "talking point" mode -- it was a bit of a different story.
I could go on and on, but won't. I do want to again thank the President for his visit and the ride in the limo to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Big thanks, too, to his campaign manager for Wisconsin, Mark Graul. It was an amazing day that saying "I'll never forget" just doesn't do it justice.
And to Senators Obama and McCain: our new office is much nicer. We'd welcome a visit from one or both of you.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.