Just a few nights before Thanksgiving break, my roommates and I decided to try out Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown for dinner. I’d been trying to talk them into eating there since the beginning of the school year. Legend has it that JFK proposed to a young Jacqueline Bouvier in a corner booth. Since it was the night before the anniversary of JFK’s assassination, we decided to finally actually visit the restaurant. I am extremely glad we did.
Our dinner started ordinarily enough. We noticed a few oddities--a gentleman standing near the bar, occasionally conversing with the restaurant staff, a man outside helping patrons cross the street--but we did not think much of such things. As we were finishing up dessert, someone called attention to a motorcade pulling up outside. Everyone started speculating as to whose motorcade it could be and asking whether there were flags flying. The activity throughout the restaurant ground to a halt as everyone collectively held their breath in anticipation. Slowly, conversation resumed and people began milling around once again. I heard a whisper from someone sitting by a window. “It’s Mike Pence!” they exclaimed.
Immediately, our table became abuzz with excitement. Cameras were pulled out across the venue and people craned their necks towards the entrance. Secret Service agents entered first, then Mr. Pence followed flanked by more of his detail. There was a brief moment of quiet when he first stepped into the restaurant. Then, an outrageously loud round of applause broke out. Vice President Elect Pence held up his hand in gratitude. A woman off to my left called out, “Welcome to D.C.,” and he replied, “Thank you! Glad to be here.”
I’ll never understand exactly why this happened next, but Mr. Pence walked directly over to our table. The applause continued, and as he approached it became apparent that Mr. Pence had tears in his eyes. He extended his hand and shook hands with my friend, Joe, who was sitting to my right, then he patted me on the back and made his way around the table shaking hands. He continued towards the back of the restaurant.
After regaining our composure (just barely!), our table began lamenting the fact that no one had taken a picture of what had just transpired. At first we did not want to bother the Vice President Elect or his security detail, but after a few minutes of weighing the pros and cons, we sent a delegate to ask about taking a picture. The first Secret Service agent did not respond immediately, but Mr. Pence heard the request and said that he would be glad to take a picture with us.
He was exceptionally gracious and affable as we prepared for the snapshot. He joked that he was, “[...] sure [he] can find someone willing to take this picture for us,” before passing the phone to the Secret Service. After posing for a myriad of pictures, he thanked us for our support and encouragement, again while sporting tears in his eyes. I have no idea what came over me in that moment--it must have been adrenaline--but with his arm still around me, I turned to the Vice President Elect and said, “I want you to know I heard your wife speak in Berwyn, Pennsylvania…” His eyes lit up at the mention of Karen, and he interjected, “She’s amazing, isn’t she?” I responded with an emphatic, “Yes, she is!” He shook all of our hands again, thanked us for the continued support and implored us to continue praying for him and Donald Trump. “We feel your prayers every day,” he told us. Then he patted me on the back once more, turned and left.
The rally at which I had heard Karen Pence speak was a turning point for me personally this election. The First Lady of Indiana spoke poignantly and passionately about the importance of free and independent thinking. She talked of raising young adults in the modern world and how her children frequently disagree with their father’s policies, and that not only is that okay, it’s encouraged in the Pence household. Discourse is the bedrock of democracy. Karen Pence praised the polite disagreements that occur around her dinner table frequently. Mike Pence has become a controversial figure during this election for his seemingly cold governing habits and outdated stances regarding social issues. People love casting him as the aloof and evil foil to humanitarian advancement and modern thinking. However, after looking in his eyes, witnessing his gratitude firsthand and hearing his wife’s comments on such matters, nothing will ever convince me that Mike Pence holds malice or illwill in his heart for anyone. He was an entirely gracious, amicable and virtuous man who was grateful and humbled by the response he received at a Georgetown restaurant.
Kyla Percival is an online editor for the GW College Republicans. The opinions expressed on this blog are her own opinions and do not represent the official views of the GW College Republicans.