The first lady in the Queen City

Emily Letterman, Features Editor
When the official hashtag for the day is #FLOTUSsgf, you know it’s going to be a long day in the office.

I first “met” Michelle Obama when she introduced then presidential candidate Barack Obama before a crowd of more than 10,000 supporters at Parkview High School during his 2008 campaign stop.

A mother first and political leader second, she stood proudly with daughters, Sasha and Malia, as her husband took the podium.

She was just a mom then – a mom with a vision.

The first lady was back in the Queen City on Feb. 28. Aside from her title – and often opined-upon bangs – she stood before us, just a mom with a vision.

First lady Michelle Obama addresses a crowd of about 100 at the Walmart Neighborhood Market on South Glenstone.

First lady Michelle Obama addresses a crowd of about 100 at the Walmart Neighborhood Market on South Glenstone.

Part of a three-city, two-day tour celebrating the three-year anniversary of the Let’s Move! campaign, Michelle Obama’s visit touted Bentonville, Ark.-based megaretailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc., who, “have made significant progress in its efforts to make food healthier and those foods more affordable.”

“In the first two years of their comprehensive, five-point effort to provide its customers with healthier and more affordable food, Wal-Mart has saved their customers more than $2.3 million on fresh fruit and vegetables and opened 86 stores in underserved communities,” she said.

Read Obama’s full editorial here.

In Springfield, Wal-Mart made haste with its Neighborhood Market plans, opening four stores in five months. A fifth market was approved by City Council on Feb. 25.

During her almost five years in office, Obama has embraced her role as America’s mom and encouraged us all to eat our vegetables.

Helping improve lunches for hundreds of thousands of American school children, Obama has not only encouraged healthy eating habits but also asked kids and parents to get active and get moving.

Leading by example, Obama and her daughters help tend the White House vegetable garden and the first lady has been known to drop in on a middle school and take part in an afternoon session of jumping jacks.

Obama is a mother with a vision not only for her children but also all of our children.

Reporter’s notebook
Covering a visit from the first lady sounds so glamorous. So much so in fact, I jumped at the chance when the White House email hit Springfield Business Journal editorial inboxes.

I forgot about the waiting – the standing and the waiting.

I’ve covered Barack Obama, Joe Biden and even Sarah Palin outside of Bass Pro Shops and they all had one thing in common – I stood on the press platform for multiple hours waiting for delayed planes and motorcades to make their way across town.

However, there was plenty to keep us busy – full body scans as we went through security, endless tweeting about the event and reading the tweets of other reporters endlessly tweeting the same things.

Unlike my days in community news when covering a member of the White House, you don’t have the freedom to walk around and capture all those creative camera angles you want.

In fact, you don’t have much room to even breath.

Confined to a space the size of my bedroom, dozens of White House pool photographers and local media must jockey for a position along the front rope.

Confined to a space the size of my bedroom, dozens of White House pool photographers and local media must jockey for a position along the front rope.

I knew it was going to be a hard day in the press pool from the moment I walked up and glanced over at the Associated Press photographer. I instantly had camera lens envy.

This lens is as big as my thigh and probably costs as much as my car.

This lens is as big as my thigh and probably costs as much as my car.

When I finally secured my spot, I looked around and found some interesting company. Former SBJ intern and Missouri State University Standard Editor-in-Chief Megan Gates was to my left and to the right – wait for it – the crew from the Spanish-speaking American television network, Telemundo, who were filming a spot for their morning show.

I don’t speak a lick of Spanish, but I was starstruck.

She was so captivating, I contemplated asking her if we could take a picture together.

She was so captivating, I contemplated asking her if we could take a picture together.

Already standing around for about 90 minutes when a representative took the podium to announce Michelle was running late and wouldn’t start for another hour, there was an audible groan from the press pool.

After lots of tweeting and Facebook picture posting, the first lady arrived in grand style and the pool fell silent – save the simultaneous clicking of dozens of cameras.

The crowd stood in welcome – naturally, blocking our shots – and Michelle gave a chuckle.

“You don’t have to exercise for me,” she said with a smile.

Less then 30 minutes later it was over. She spoke her piece and the press pool literally had a five-minute window to collect our things and leave the area.

I was left with nothing but a story and photos to file, a memory and a badge for my collection.

This badge reads, “Property of the U.S. Government.” I hope they’re not too serious about that, because I took it home.

This badge reads, “Property of the U.S. Government.” I hope they’re not too serious about that, because I took it home.



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1 Response to “The first lady in the Queen City”


  1. 1 Frank Shipe March 8, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Superb article all the way. Thanks for doing it. I really enjoyed it.


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