Disclaimer: Aaron Sorkin’s, not mine. I’m not trying to fringe any inns and thus cause infringement.
Why Do They Come?
As CJ Cregg turned the corner into her bullpen, she caught a familiar flicker of red weaving between people.
“Carol,” she asked her secretary tiredly, “what was Danny doing in my office?”
Carol eyed her boss for a moment. The deep lines of exhaustion and despair on CJ’s face were uncharacteristic . . . although Carol was starting to get used to them.
A fact which frightened Carol.
She shrugged. “He said he needed to check on Gail.”
“Okay,” CJ said. There was a time when that word had been endowed with a vibrant, playful curiosity. Once, the two simple syllables could be crafted to mean hundreds of different ideas, and the listener could decipher the meaning within seconds. Now, however, CJ’s tone and expression held no joy, no anger . . . no emotion whatsoever.
Much like the halls of the White House.
Carol watched the Press Secretary step into her office and close the door softly behind her. Carol stared at the wooden barricade for a moment, and then returned to her work with a sigh.
In her office, CJ slowly crossed the room to her desk. Her six-foot frame seemed vulnerable and shrunken. Her gait was strange, as if every step carried her deeper down a dark road she was loath to travel.
When she reached her desk, she disintegrated into to chair and buried her head in her hands.
And that’s when her elbow touched a strange piece of paper that hadn’t been there when she’d left her office earlier that day.
CJ glanced up at the intruding wood pulp and blinked like one who has come suddenly from darkness into sunshine. CJ frowned, and the expression in her eyes changed subtly. A ghost of curiosity made her reach out and take the paper.
The White House Press Corps
It said at the top.
Since the thing was already in her hands, CJ gave a fatalistic shrug and began to read.
The White House Press Corps
Every day thousands of people from all across the country and the world come to the gates of the White House in Washington DC.
Why do they come?
The answers are as different as the faces of these pilgrims.
Mrs. Jackson and her fifth-grade class from Maryland were at the White House last month. “We’re here because we just learned about the White House. It’s important for the children to know about the things that happen here,” she said.
Ramón Garcia is a migrant worker from Mexico who follows where work leads. He saved his money and hitchhiked from Texas to see the White House.
“I wanted to see it,” he explained in broken English. “I have always heard of it, but I never really believed it existed. I want to be able to tell my children back in Mexico that I saw where El President de los Estados Unidos lives.
Ralph Rowe has been to the White House almost every day since the end of the Vietnam War. He spends most of his days protesting, although he admitted he doesn’t remember what he is protesting about.
“But I love this old place. The White House and I . . . we have a fondness for each other,” he said.
The Stevensen family from Montana was visiting Washington DC for the first time. Their list of things to see included Washington Monument, the Capitol and the Smithsonian. But the White House was the first place they came.
“There is something special about this place,” Eric Stevensen said. “We have a lot of buildings to visit, but we didn’t want to miss out on this one.”
Eric Jr., age 9, has his own reasons for coming.
“I wanted to scope out the digs,” he said. “I might live here someday.”
Most of the people who come to the White House will stay outside of it. They will snap some pictures, strain to see someone important through a window and then move on.
Some of us, however, come into the White House every day. For us, the process is mundane; it is work.
But each of us came here the first time, once, and we all came for a reason.
Some of us came because we wanted to be a force for good in the country.
Some of us came to support others.
Some of us came to sit in meetings and argue.
Some of us came to exercise the freedom of the press.
Some of us came to protect other lives.
Some of us came because it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Now, though, all of us who came have passed through fire and blood.
Many of us will never be able to come here again totally free from pain in body and soul.
Some of us will never come here or anywhere else ever again. The voices of our fallen colleagues still echo through these halls and offices, but their words come from a time of innocence.
Those of us who remain feel the weight of the future, and we are not sure we can carry it.
So why do we stay?
The answer is simple: we have not finished the work we came to do. There are still lives to change, still stories to write, still laughter and tears and frustration and love to share.
If that is not reason enough, remember this: we can not go yet, lest the voices of those who can never return disappear forever.
We MUST remain. We MUST rise above those who would seek to destroy us.
We came, as people always come to the White House, with awe and excitement. Dig deep. The feeling is still there.
We can not change the past. But if we continue to come, if we lift our heads from despair and open our eyes to the light of this place, we can change the future.
It is called the White House for a reason. You can only see the color white in the light. And when it is illuminated from the inside, white can give light to others.
We came because we thought we could make a difference. We remain because we know that we can.
When CJ finished the story, she realized that she was crying. And for the first time since that fateful day in Virginia, she let herself. She cried for her president, her friends, her country and herself.
Then she stood as she had not stood since before she had been knocked to the ground two weeks earlier and went looking for Danny.
She found him huddled in his cubical hammering away on a story.
“Danny,” she said.
He glanced up nonchalantly.
“Hi CJ. Something I can do for you?”
“You wrote this.”
“This article. It’s . . . just what I needed.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said as he stared absently at the screen of his laptop.
“I know your writing.”
“Think whatever you want.”
“I’m going to make copies for a lot of people, including the President. Is that okay?”
Danny glanced up at her. “Sure. I’m just sayin’ I still don’t know what you’re talking about.”
For the first time in a long time, CJ smiled. “Okay,” she said.
Danny knew what she meant.
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