Friday, October 24, 2003

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush posed yesterday morning for a picture with Hilma Chang, a longtime volunteer at the USS Arizona Memorial who was chosen by the White House to meet the president as he arrived in Hawaii.

Local volunteer greets
president and first lady

Hilma Chang gives the Bushes
pikake, ilima, and maile leis

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Along the red carpet leading from Air Force One, the governor, lieutenant governor and other dignitaries lined up on one side. On the other side, 79-year-old Hilma Chang stood alone in her National Park Service volunteer uniform.

Chang, a great-grandmother from Liliha and a volunteer at the Arizona Memorial for the last 10 years, was selected to greet the president yesterday morning as part of a White House initiative to honor and promote volunteerism.

As President Bush and his wife, Laura, stepped off the plane, Chang remembers thinking, "Golly, they look so young."

She said she was nervous as the president and his wife approached.

"I was shaking," she said.

Chang presented Bush with a maile and ilima lei, and the first lady with a pikake and ilima lei.

"I said: 'Aloha on behalf of the USS Arizona Service Center. The volunteers want to say welcome to Honolulu and we love you.'"

The president replied, "You were good, and you did a good job and keep it up, and I know you did a lot of work and that's why you were chosen," Chang recalled.

She said she thought there were other volunteers who were deserving, but the president told her, "You did fine and keep it up."

After a picture-taking session, the president and his wife left in the motorcade.

"He said, 'Don't worry, you're going to have a copy.' I asked, 'Are you going to sign it?'" as the president's limousine drove off.

Yesterday afternoon, Chang said she was still "kind of nervous and excited yet."

"I know that not everybody can get to meet the president like that," she said. "It's just a privilege and I was just lucky."


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