Goose Bumps and Moist Eyes...

Posted by Daniel Piccuta
February 20, 2009
Plane Carrying U.S. Secretary of State in Beijing

About the Author: Dan Piccuta serves as the Charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China.

Goose bumps and moist eyes -- I know to expect both.

As I prepare to head out to Beijing Airport on this cold Friday evening, I am getting a familiar feeling. I am beginning to anticipate "the moment" of each visit that has always been particularly special for me.

In a few hours, Secretary Clinton will arrive in China, on her first trip as Secretary of State. As I prepare to join the motorcade forming at the airport, I can't help but think of how often I've done this before -- how I have stood watch on runways from Venice to Pyongyang, from Key West to Moscow -- waiting on the U.S. Air Force Boeing 757 "blue and white" that carries Secretaries of State on their travels. "Blue and white" because the Secretary's aircraft has the same light blue and white markings as the more familiar Air Force One. To us in the State Department that 757 is known simply as "the plane."

At the airport, I will link up with the Secretary's advance party, security detail and Embassy staff and will congratulate them on their hard work in preparing for the visit. I will compliment the high-level Chinese government officials who have led the trip planning on their side, and who with me will welcome Secretary Clinton. They will be the first Chinese representatives to shake the Secretary's hand in her new job as America's top diplomat. With the visit planning behind us, and the Secretary's meetings and public events still to come, those moments on the tarmac anticipating the arrival of the Secretary are usually quiet, eerily empty of activity and in stark contrast to the frenetic pace of the pre-arrival preparations.

As the plane enters Beijing's airspace, we will get the signal to move from the terminal out into position, and we will search the night sky for the running lights of our Secretary's blue and white. And when it appears, an American flag on its tail, so too will special emotions. Every time I see "the plane" descending onto a foreign runway I am filled with an odd combination of pride and humility. I am always moved by the display of American prestige in the form of the Air Force "blue and white" and, amidst the dozens of ground personnel, security agents, media and staff taking up their positions, I always reflect on the fact that I am privileged to be in the service of the country I love and the cause of furthering peace, security and friendship. And, as has happened on every other such arrival, once again they will appear -- goose bumps and moist eyes.



Oregon, USA
February 20, 2009

RG in Oregon writes:

"Goose bumps and moist eyes" I just said that aloud to myself before I read this page. Funny how our Hillary affects us in this universal way. I love Hillary.

New Jersey, USA
February 20, 2009

Rosemary in New Jersey writes:

Wow, Dan, you brought tears to MY eyes and a lump to my throat with that post. You know, we here at home very much appreciate the hard work and special care that all of the embassy personnel have put into arranging this trip for our very special emissary, Hillary.

I can understand how you feel every time, whomever is aboard "the plane", but for me, it is this exceptional occupant that grabs my heart and stirs my soul. She is showing the world the unique gifts that inspired devotion among so many of us in the states. As you have probably found by now, she enchants. She does it with genuine interest in other people, steady eye contact, and irresistible warmth.

I love her. Thanks for taking such good care of her.

California, USA
February 21, 2009

Veyry in California writes:

Dan:Goos bumps and wet eyes is what I feel when I see pictures and videos of our Hillary traveling around the world. No one could do it better than this wonderful lady. Please tell us more and share pictures of Hillary's trips.We love you Hillary!

Jonathan B.
California, USA
February 21, 2009

Jonathan in California writes:

May Secretary Clinton's visit to Beijing strengthen U.S.-P.R.C. relations! Thanks for posting!

Connecticut, USA
February 21, 2009

Terry in Connecticut writes:

"The Plane" carrying out nation's 67th Secretary of State is very special. Thanks for the pics and news coming from Secretary Clinton's travels all this week. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is being received very well by the far East.

February 21, 2009

Valerie writes:

How wonderful to read your blog and to get a behind the scenes look at what goes on during a visit from a Secretary of State.

Thank you.

New Mexico, USA
February 22, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Hi Dan: I can sort of relate, having run sound for bands live and in studio.

You have your public gig, and your private gig.

As Paul McCartney once put it, "You compose in isolation, you record in isolation,... the gig is where it's at."


Georgia, USA
February 22, 2009

Palmer in Georgia writes:

Thank you for posting this blog. It is fascinating to read about the preparation behind state trips. I am especially happy about Secretary Clinton's first trip abroad as our top diplomat. I have been concerned about the United States' reputation in the world for years. I believe that Secretary Clinton is perfect for helping to increase our good will towards the rest of the world.

Florida, USA
February 23, 2009

Paul in Florida writes:

Thank you for this great post! Very informative and interesting!

February 23, 2009

Todd in Spain writes:

Dan: great post. You know I'm right there with you. All the best, Todd

Florida, USA
February 23, 2009

Deanne in Florida writes:

How wonderful for America to have a devoted and PROUD citizen doing the very important work we take for granted. Secretary Clinton brings so much dignity, and class to this Vital role for our country today. All I can say is GOD BLESS AMERICA and thank you.

Iowa, USA
February 25, 2009

Susan in Iowa writes:

Daniel, I have had the privilege of seeing Air Force One, once and I understand your sense of pride, patriotism, and welling up of emotions. These emotions are involuntary and reflexive and I am so happy to see you unabashedly share them with us. Thank you.

California, USA
April 7, 2009

Andy in California writes:

Dear Dan, Dave N., Neecee R, and I Andy S. have been trying to get in touch with you to congratulate you on your sucess. Please, if you get a chance, reply to this post so I can send you Dave and Necee's email addresses.


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