By Kevin Lamarque
My assignment was to fly on Air Force One to Martha’s Vineyard and cover President Obama’s vacation. Covering is perhaps a misleading term. The term “protective coverage” would be more accurate.
When the President is on vacation, the photo opportunities are few and far between. Days as the “travel pool” Reuters photographer are long, tedious and not necessarily fruitful. The travel pool consisting of photographers, TV crew and reporters is at the ready in case breaking news happens as the President vacations. The pool will also be on hand if the White House actually decides to allow coverage of the President during a rare public appearance. We had a few photo opportunities… a bookstore, a restaurant, a golf course, a bike ride and two statements to reporters (Libya and Hurricane Irene). Total Presidential face time for those photo opportunities…….about 9-minutes out of a 9-day vacation.
When you live in Northern Virginia, only miles from Washington D.C., you are somewhat aware of the history all around you, yet it is a distant feeling, drowned out by suburban sprawl and ubiquitous strip malls. Today, it is difficult to form a picture of what happened in this countryside 150 years ago during the Civil War. Over half the Civil War battles were fought in the state of Virginia.
Appropriately, the first major battle of the Civil was at Manassas in Northern Virginia. The First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run on July 21, 1861, dashed hopes on both sides of the fight that war would be a quick affair. The rest, as they say, is history, and I will leave it to historians to tell that story.
It’s cold, it’s very dark and oh…. of course it’s raining. I have no idea if or when I will actually see the Prime Minister after standing here for hours.
That’s my enduring memory from 10 years (1989-1999) of covering Downing St. as a photographer for Reuters. I still tell people that Downing St. is the coldest place on Earth, no matter what month it may be!