The recent visit by Prince Harry of Wales to the New Jersey shore areas to see the recovery and rebuilding process from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy was a wonderful gesture from this esteemed member of the British royal family.
Prince Harry traveled by helicopter to the New Jersey shore and saw the rebuilding effort in Seaside Heights and also in Brick Township, which was widely reported by the media.
Prince Harry brought a sense of hope and excitement to the Shore, which was sorely needed after Hurricane Sandy. As a lifelong resident of the Shore I can attest to that fact. Many people are still really hurting and having trouble getting their homes rebuilt and their lives back on track.
Through his visit, Prince Harry brought attention to the fact that the New Jersey shore is coming back, but we still need help. We need this tourist season at the beaches and boardwalks of New Jersey to be very strong in order for our state economy to gain momentum again. His royal visit helped bring attention to the fact that we are resilient people in New Jersey and that we will be ready to host the tourists for the critical summer beach season.
The recent visit of Prince Harry brought back memories of when I met a member of the British royal family. It was back in the summer of 1997, and I was the Student Body President of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY.
I was invited to be a part of a delegation to meet Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, who was visiting the Marist College campus because the school was the technology partner in a project involving the British government and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Center.
The F.D.R. Center is located right down the road from Marist, in the beautiful Hudson Valley, and the project involved sharing documents from the British government, the archives of the F.D.R. Library, and other information resources with the goal being on-line shared integration.
I remember it was a beautiful sunny summer day, and my father drove with me up to the event from our home in the New Jersey shore area. I remember my father was so proud of me and all that I had achieved in college.
An Unforgettable Handshake
My father dropped me off right in front of the building where the event was being held. I recall the excitement as I waited with the faculty and staff as well as members of the local media, and other honored guests.
Then we saw the motorcade approach and Prince Andrew entered the building lobby and the excitement was unlike anything I had really experienced before. The President of Marist College, Dr. Dennis Murray, introduced me to Prince Andrew as the Student Body President and I will never forget that moment I shook his hand and Prince Andrew said to me, “It’s a pleasure to meet you. Congratulations on your election.”
It was a simple, yet very personable greeting. It is an amazing experience to meet a member of the royal family. I have met other celebrities, professional athletes, politicians, and famous members of the media but the day I met Prince Andrew was unlike any of those experiences.
Prince Andrew was really wonderful that day throughout the meetings we had about this project. It was a truly unique experience that I still cherish. Prince Andrew is the third child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. I was given a picture of that handshake with Prince Andrew, and I gave it to my grandfather, a World War II veteran, who was stationed in London during the war.
Back to the Shore
I really appreciate Prince Harry of Wales coming to see the rebuilding efforts on the New Jersey shore. The visit really gave a boost of excitement to an area that has not had much to be excited or happy about in the seven long months since Hurricane Sandy struck. It is refreshing to see someone in that position understand that it was important to make the trip to those shore areas.
It made me think of that day in the Hudson Valley, and my own experience, I recall how proud my father was that day as we drove home to New Jersey. He is proud of me today for sharing my gifts and talents in writing articles and stories to raise awareness on issues. That’s a day and a memory I will always share with my Dad.