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Reporting for Duty
By Aaron Broder
Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Kid Reporter Aaron Broder Kid Reporter Aaron Broder poses in front of President Bush's vehicle.
Courtesy of Mike Maple, of The Commercial Appeal
June 29, 2006
Location: Nashville, TN
Time: 16:10
Subject: The Call

I had just settled into my seat at the movie theater and popped open my box of Milk Duds. As the opening credits began, my mom leaned over and whispered to me, "We have to go."

Confused, I went with her to the lobby. "Why are we leaving?" I asked. "I wanted to see that movie."

"We can come back later," she said excitedly. "You just got selected for the press pool to see President Bush and the Japanese Prime Minister visit Graceland!"

So began my adventure as a pool reporter. When we got home, we hurriedly packed our bags and got in the car. We were on our way to Memphis, to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

June 30, 2006
Location: Memphis, TN
Time: 06:45
Subject: "You're Clear for Landing"

Fighting the urge to get back into bed, I donned my Scholastic uniform and grabbed my gear. It was time for me to become a pool reporter.

Together, my mom and I drove to the Tennessee Air National Guard. We arrived at 08:00 and signed in to get our credentials. However, since Air Force One didn't land until 10:00, we still had quite a bit of time.

I began to talk with some members of the press. One of the Japanese reporters asked me about Nashville, because he was going there to report on Music City, USA. Another explained to me the basics of the kanji, one of the three Japanese alphabets.

At 08:40, the security check began. First, they had us set our bags up against a wall. Then, while they used a dog to sniff each bag, they took out their handheld metal detectors and "wanded" us. After we got our bags back, security told us the plan for the day. I was lucky enough to be in the group that got to go out under the wing of Air Force One.

At 10:00 on the dot, Air Force One landed and President Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, and Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi disembarked.

June 30, 2006

Aaron breaks for lunch
Kid Reporter Aaron Broder chows down on some ribs at the Rendezvous.
(Photo: Courtesy of Aaron Broder)
Location: Memphis, TN
Time: 10:09
Subject: The King's Palace

"Run, run, run!" shouted the security at the landing. Quickly, I ran to Press Bus 3, the bus for the local (outside Washington, D.C.) press (Press Bus 2 was the Japanese press, and the first was for Washington press). The last press member filed in, the door was shut, and we were on our way to Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, the king of rock 'n' roll.

On our way to Graceland, there were a lot of people along the streets; many of them held up signs for Bush and Koizumi to see. By 10:20, the motorcade arrived at Graceland.

"Run, Run, Run!" we heard again, and quickly we got out of the bus and followed the Press Advance Representative to the back door of what we soon would discover was the Jungle Room. While waiting outside the door, I spoke with a reporter for The Washington Times who arrived on Air Force One, and he told me about the flight.

Once we were inside, President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi spoke for a while. Then, after President Bush said, "You're a pretty good singer," Prime Minister Koizumi started singing a little Elvis.

Then, the waiting began. Around back of the mansion, the writing press was forced to wait outside in the unbearable heat for an hour, while the photographers and video camera men followed the president and prime minister in the house. Thankfully for us there was a water cooler in the back, but still, it was a relief when we got to go into the "Racquetball Room," where there were many records and costumes. Then, it was out to the front of Graceland, where the two world leaders each spoke about how they enjoyed the visit. Suddenly, it was "Run, run, run!" again, and we were on our way back to the motorcade for the next part of our day.

Aaron watches Air Force One
Kid Reporter Aaron Broder shields his eyes from the sun as he watches Air Force One take off.
(Photo: Courtesy of Aaron Broder)
June 30, 2006
Location: Memphis, TN
Time: 12:15
Subject: A Surprise Stop

On the way to the Rendezvous, the popular rib restaurant where we were going to lunch, two unexpected things happened. First, our press bus and the press bus in front of us got separated from the rest of the motorcade. It wasn't a big problem, though. We soon caught up with the rest of the motorcade, when the second unplanned item on our agenda happened: a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum. President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi were shown the room that Martin Luther King Jr. stayed in and the place on the balcony where he was assassinated. Then, it was "Run, run, run!" back to the press buses so we could get to lunch.

At the Rendezvous, we went up to the balcony and we watched President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi sit down to eat with other business officials and politicians. Then, we all went downstairs to eat. On the menu: ribs, pork shoulder, and other barbecue. Delicious!

At 13:35, we left the Rendezvous—for the first time without being rushed. While the Japanese press and the Prime Minister had more to do in Memphis, the rest of the press corps piled in to the buses as we went back to the Tennessee Air National Guard.

Finally, at 14:00, Air Force One took off. So ended my day's adventure.

Signing Off,

Aaron Broder