Any other Tuesday, 13-year-old Alexis Veliz would have walked the halls of Ensor Middle School.
Any other Tuesday, Alexis would have sat quietly in class and worked on some math problem or other. He might have practiced his sentence structure a bit or maybe his grammar.
Any other Tuesday, and perhaps a few Tuesdays after this, Alexis will copy notes from a chalk-board and raise his hand with an answer for a teacher’s question.
Not this Tuesday.
This Tuesday, May 10, The President of the United States visited El Paso.
This Tuesday, when Alexis raised his hand, it was to shake Obama’s.
“I couldn’t believe i got the President’s signature!” Alexis said. The 7th Grader went home that day with the President’s autograph on his baseball cap and a Marine flag.
“Don’t overwork me,” Obama joked when Alexis handed him a pen.
Alexis described the President’s handshake as firm, but average.
“It’s an exhilarating feeling,” said Gilbert Aguirre, Alexis’s dad, “Even coming in through the gate was a good feeling.”
Ranked as Sergeant, Mr. Aguirre was a Marine for 6 years. His job was in artillery. Upon his discharge, he became a cop.
He’s patrolled the Lower Valley for the last 19 years.
Mr. Aguirre was lucky enough to find tickets for himself, his daughter Vivian, 23, and Alexis from a friend in the government. They waited in a hot, stuffy room in Fort Bliss for an hour and a half until Air Force One arrived.
President Obama stepped out onto Fort Bliss around noon and greeted soldiers and a hand-full of families before heading down for a speech at the Chamizal National Memorial. This was the first time Obama crossed into the El Paso city limits.
Alexis’s face to face moment with the leader of this country may have been brief, but memories can last a long time. He’ll take care of that hat and maybe wear it while he cheers for the Dodgers on TV. Has father plans to frame the flag.