'The bowling guys' meet the Obamas on Veterans Day By Mark Miller

    11/15/11

    Column

    Republished courtesy of Examiner.com (Nov. 13, 2011)

    2011BowlersmeetObamas.jpgPresident Barack Obama had another close encounter with bowling when he greeted industry leaders after a National Veterans Day breakfast Friday to honor the nation's military veterans.

    United States Bowling Congress Executive Director Stu Upson and Bowling Proprietors' Association of America Executive Director Steve Johnson attended a White House breakfast in Washington, D.C., as special guest of the Bowlers to Veterans Link, one of many veteran services organizations in attendance.

    The President addressed the group after breakfast, then he and Mrs. Obama greeted guests in a receiving line.

    From left: Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs W. Scott Gould; BVL Board member Wally Hall, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, BVL Board Chair Darlene Baker, USBC Executive Director Stu Upson and BPAA Executive Director Steve Johnson. Credits: The White House

    "When we told the President we were from the bowling industry, he introduced us enthusiastically to Mrs. Obama by saying, 'Hey Michelle, these are the bowling guys,' " Upson said. "We chatted briefly about his game (he says he needs lessons) and the lanes at Camp David."

    President Obama had an infamous national introduction to bowling when he bowled a 37 game during a 2008 campaign stop in Pennsylvania. He later joked that if elected he would remove the lane in the White House basement, replacing it with a basketball court.

    The lane not only ended being saved but has proven to be a popular place for the Obamas, their children and White House visitors. The basketball court was constructed outside.

    "Both the President and Mrs. Obama were very warm and gracious," Upson said. "Most importantly, they expressed their thanks for all that the bowling industry does through BVL to support our veterans."

    Apparently the Obamas may have enjoyed their visit with Upson and Johnson a little too much.

    "We may have been the cause of the buses being late because he and his wife were talking bowling with us," Johnson said.

    Following the breakfast, Upson and Johnson joined BVL Chair Darlene Baker and BVL Board Member Wally Hall in the dignitaries' box at the Arlington Cemetery Amphitheatre to hear the President speak. During the day they also took part in a Presidential Color Guard, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery and had a private meeting with Veterans Administration Secretary Eric Shinseki.

    At the meeting with Shineski, BVL presented a facsimile check of $761,660.26; the amount raised by BVL during the 2010-11 season. Baker also outlined for the Secretary several initiatives being planned by BVL to further support the VA.

    The visit continued a long tradition of BVL officials taking part in Veterans' Day activities in the Nation's Capital.