Saturday, 2:15 PM
The media -- several hundred of us -- have now arrived at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, just outside of Washington, to wait for the pope. There is a high school band warming up, and a few sun-drenched reviewing stands filling up mostly with Air Force employees and their families. Many of the kids are holding the yellow flags of the Holy See, as well as the stars and stripes, to wave when they see the president and the pope.
I managed to find two women from Massachusetts, both of them serving in the Air Force, both of them excited to see the pope, but also to see the president. "I've been in the Air Force for 22 years, and I have not been this close to my boss before,'' said Master Sergeant Barbara Poirier, 41, of North Attleborough. I wasn't sure whether she was referring to the pope or President Bush, but it turns out she meant the president, who is coming to Andrews to greet the pope. This will be the first time the president has gone to the airport to welcome a visitor (I mean in an official capacity, obviously). Poirier was seated next to Tech Sergeant Jennifer Taylor, 29, of New Bedford, who called this afternoon "a once in a lifetime experience, to see the pope and the president,'' Taylor said she had visited the Vatican as a tourist, but had missed seeing the pope.
A helpful Air Force official, noting that I was combing through the crowd of several hundred looking for New Englanders, kindly pointed out a guy in the back row wearing a Red Sox cap. That turned out to be Don DeSaulniers, 56, a retired civilian Air Force employee originally from Bellingham, but now living in Lusby, Md. Don was relatively taciturn, noting obliquely that his cap was causing him a lot of trouble, but his wife, Barbara, said the couple had considered going to see the pope at Nationals Park, but that the chance to watch from the tarmac meant they'd get a better view.
I also found an Arlington native in the crowd, Joyce Kearney, now of Laurel, Md., who told me she considered it "a blessing" to be able to be here. "I've lived to be 68, and I'm finally getting to see a pope,'' she said.
To read all the pope visit blog posts, check out this site.
By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff
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