Okay, so I'm starting out with a vanity shot, but how many times can you say, "Yeah, this is a picture of me going into the White House?"


There was about a hundred people to check through security, and while we all waited there were a couple rooms opened up for us to wait in. This is GW's sword. That's George Washington, Not our current George W.


Taken from the Red Carpeted Hallway of Power that you've seen in hundreds of broadcasts of the white house. The group slowly grows bigger and bigger...


This is the staircase that leads from The Red Carpeted Hallway of Power up to the President's residence. (Ha, that rhymes!)


A marble bust of Abe Lincoln that adorned the Red Carpeted Hallway of Power..


And the crowd gets bigger...


GWB requested that junior enlisted from the local military bases be given the opportunity to come to the White House for this presentation. These are some of the Marines who made it in. Also you can see MoH recipient Sgt John Baker on the far left patiently waiting for the ceremonies to begin.


A few last minute adjustments to the stage and we're ready to roll...


A close up of the pamphlet commemorating the ceremony.


The crowd slowly moved in from the Red Carpeted Hallway of Power into the East Room. Sounds easy, but it was actually a twenty minute process.


VIP's are always fashionably late...


Okay, so maybe these are the last minute checks...


Wow, who's that handsom son of a gun on the left? Why yes, yes that's me. The gentleman to my left is Sgt Derek Pelletier, followed by his mother. Then Sgt Berwald, then two people I don't know. Thanks for the pic, Joe!


Here's an important fellow, the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, or as he's known around the Pentagon, "The Don," shaking the hands of the soldiers to my left (from the previous photo).


Wow. Five living recepients of the Medal of Honor. I know it's not the best picture but it was taken from across the room and my weenie camera doesn't zoom very well. From Left to Right: Brian Miles Thacker, 1LT, USA - Alfred Rascon, MAJ, USA - Bernard Francis Fisher, Maj, USAF - Harvey Curtiss "Barney" Barnum, Capt, USMC - John Franklin Baker Jr., SGT, USA


Need. More. Comb.


Some of the reporters that perched up behind me.


Some visiting soldiers who were asked to join us, and behind them more reporters.


Paul's family is escorted to their seats, Birgit and her two children were in the front row, surrounded by Paul's other immediate family. Birgit's family also flew in from Germany for the ceremonies. So if everyone is here, then it's time for...


GWB himself! I was about six feet away and that was as close as I got. I mean sure, I could have suddenly leaned closer, but I didn't want to get beat down by the Secret Service right on CNN.


Everyone bows their heads for the benediction. Everyone that is, except me, because I had to take this picture.


"Look mom, I was this close to the President..."


President Bush gives us his comments about Sergeant Smith. Before beginning his speech, the President one again showed his personable side by giving a wink to Paul's son who was sitting just in front of him. It was a small gesture, but I'm sure it did wonders to ease any tension the young boy was feeling.


The family is invited up on stage while the official Citation is read out loud. This was one of the toughest parts. Everyone from civilians, to soldiers both young and old were visibly moved. By the time it was done, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.


Paul's eleven year old son, David, stands proudly with his father's medal as the crowd applauds.


President Bush speaks to Birgit. The President met with the family in private for about thirty minutes prior to the ceremony. Afterwards, everyone said how the President made them feel very comfortable and put everyone at ease; he knew when to lighten the somber mood with a subtle joke, and when to be sincere and earnest.


As the ceremony comes to a close, The President makes for a quick round of handshakes with his senior staff and departs the East room. Quick bit of trivia: Look at the balding man in the bright blue suit standing between me and the President - now look just to the right of him and you'll see the shoulder board with the four stars on it? That shoulder belongs to General Richard B. Myers, USAF, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Later on in the reception room, I accidentally stepped on his foot. Ha!


A picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll just shut up...


Okay, a few vanity pics. Me with Medal of Honor recepient Lieutenant Brian Thacker.


Another one, this time with Major Alfred Rascon. Thanks for cutting off my head Steve!


This is me with Major Bernard Fisher. He cracked me up, after the picture was taken he said, "Well that didn't hurt a bit." It was my honor, sir.


Major Fisher standing with Joe "The Hammer" Garcia. Wen the photo was done Major Fisher turns to Joe and says, "Stay cool!" Ha! I love this guy, full of one liners. A few of the photos you see on this page I stole from Joe. Thanks Joe!.


I just missed this pic - one of the Marines had just said something to David, who was sitting at a time munching some cookies and admiring his growing collection of challenge coins.


Sgt Derek Pelletier and his mother. Now when I see this picture, I'm reminded of Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket: "Let me see your war face! Aaaarrrrrgggggggg!!!! You don't scare me - work on it!"


Me standing below the portrait of the late, great, President Ronald Freaking Reagan, baby! So long Gipper, we hardly knew ye.


Poor Major Fisher, I think by the end of the day he was feeling like a supermodel. This time Steve Grillo, a friend of the Smith family, is graced by his company.


Finally, a good show of The Red Carpeted Hallway of Power. This is the hallway you see GWB march down when he makes a press conference. Those doors at the end of the hallway lead to the East Room, where the actual presentation was held.


What? UFO's over the White House Lawn? No, reflections of the chandelier in the window pane.


Looking out over the front lawn. If you look closely, see all those people behind the gate? Those are tourists. And for all of poor suckers out there that day and thought the President waved to you? Actually that was Steve. Sorry!


Presidential portrait of... Taft? [Nope: Grover Cleveland. Thanks ST]


This is Paul's sister Lisa, with Steve, family friend and all around good guy (but bad photographer). Steve tries to make friends with homeless people, who in turn scream obsceneties at him.


My opportunity to stand with the Woman of the Hour. The Mrs. Birgit Smith, and her son David. That's one tough kid, folks.


Hmm? Seems to be a common theme in Washington, apparently. It's like staring at the sun - I can't look away.


This is Brad's sister-in-law, Eve (cobblestones!) and Steve.


This is Paul's brother-in-law, Brad, standing in the White House with Steve, Bad Photographer Extraordinaire.


I got two words for you people: Presidential Snackeycakes.


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