President Barack Obama welcomes Vivian Bailey, escorted by Vice President Joe Biden just outside the Oval Office, May 26, 2015. (David Lienemann/The White House)
A 97-year-old Maryland resident received the surprise of a lifetime when she met President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden during a trip to the White House.
Vivian Bailey was honored at the White House for her 15 years of volunteer work at Running Brook Elementary School in Columbia Md.
According to Washington, D.C. Fox affiliate WTTG, over the past 15 years Bailey has been raising money for the children at Running Brook Elementary to go on field trips. Bailey’s dedication to ensuring that every child at the elementary school had the chance to go on field trips stemmed from her very own childhood.
Bailey was born in Washington D.C. in 1918, but grew up in Tulsa, Okla. where she was not allowed to go on school field trips with her peers due to racial segregation.
“I grew up in segregation in Tulsa, Oklahoma—and then I went in the Army and we were segregated in the Army also,” Bailey told the television station. “And we had marvelous, marvelous teachers, but we didn’t have field trips. Now, whether the White students had them or not I don’t know.”
Bailey served in the Women’s Army Corps in Alabama and Georgia from 1942 to 1946. She later became a first lieutenant and was in charge of 144 women at Fort Benning, Ga.
Through her volunteer work with the elementary school, Bailey has helped raise thousands of dollars to help sponsor the school’s field trips. In fact, Bailey also had the opportunity to take her own first-ever school field trip, to the U.S. Capitol with the kids this year.
It was a profile on that first ‘field trip’ experience which caught the attention of the White House. Bailey had mentioned that she would like to take a trip to the White House; according to WTTG, somebody at the White House saw the story and decided to offer Bailey an invitation.
Bailey was told she would be given a tour of the White House, but to her surprise, she was first visited by Biden.
“Someone told us, ‘We have somebody who wants to meet you,’ so then they were escorting us, and as we stepped in this room, the vice president came to the door and greeted us,” Bailey said in an ABC News interview. “He was very gracious, very easy to meet and then he said, ‘Somebody else wants to meet you,’ so we walked across over to the president’s office.”
Meeting Biden was only half of the surprise, because not long after that, she came face to face with President Obama.
“It was awesome. It was wonderful. It was overwhelming–just to be in the Oval Office and meeting the president. It was a dream come true,” Bailey told Baltimore CBS affiliate WBAL.