By Alex Kopish, Editor in Chief
On Labor Day, Tanya Lohr’s patriotism soared like a jet as she was living out a once-in-a-lifetime moment with the president of the United States.
“I had just started getting used to being on the stage in front of the huge crowd when suddenly Air Force One flew by and my stomach jumped, my knees buckled and my eyes started to tear with pride,” said Lohr.
Lohr, a social studies teacher at West Bend West, was given the opportunity to stand up on stage with President Barack Obama. The president was in Milwaukee at the Summerfest Grounds on Labor Day, Sept. 1. Obama gave his Labor Day speech to a crowd of about 6,000 and emphasized topics such as union workers, job growth, and the economy.
“I had the honor of representing the teaching profession and the students and families we serve by standing on stage with President Obama,” Lohr said. “I became concerned about what would happen once the president joined us on stage, as I had had such an emotional and physical reaction to seeing Air Force One fly overhead.”
“There has been an outpouring of congratulations from friends and family and community members who saw my experience as an honor for all.”
– Tanya Lohr
“It’s an honor to have someone from our school represent the school district. [Lohr] is a valued staff member and works well with children,” said Bill Greymont, principal of the West Bend High Schools.
Lohr said she arrived at the Summerfest Grounds around 10:30 a.m. The president would not be on stage until 2 p.m., but over the course of the next 3 1/2 hours those going on stage with the president were checked and prepped for his arrival. “The long period of time between arriving on the grounds and actually greeting the president gave us plenty of time to acclimate to the situation,” Lohr said.
“The White House staffer smiled and said, ‘have fun and enjoy being part of history,’ and shortly after, the president stepped on stage,” Lohr said. “That’s when I realized the true magnitude of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“Each time it started to feel ‘normal’ to be on the stage, I was given reminders of just how atypical this was,” Lohr said. She recalls being more relaxed when the president was on stage because of his down-to-earth manner and because he was very gracious with everyone around him.
Lohr has taught for the past 16 years. She currently serves as the chair for the Democratic Party in Washington County and in 2012 Lohr ran for Wisconsin Senate. She has advocated for workers’ rights and adequate funding for education. Her political work for the state is what granted her the opportunity on Labor Day.
“There has been an outpouring of congratulations from friends and family and community members who saw my experience as an honor for all, not just one,” said Lohr.
“It is an honor that she is thought highly of to be given this opportunity,” Greymont said. “It’s a great opportunity, to stand behind the president.”
Lohr said that she was thrilled to have such an experience to share with friends, family, and students.
“In the end, it truly was fun and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of history,” Lohr said.
(Image courtesy of Tanya Lohr.)