Gerra Performs For President Bush

On March 27, 2008, I performed for a fundraiser for President George W. Bush. It was held at the home of Claude and Laura Kronk of Sewickley Heights, PA.

What a glorious evening it was! It began with the guests enjoying delectable hors d’oeurves and great conversation. Even though I was singing and playing the concert grand piano, I was also able to chat and meet some fun and fascinating people - many of whom I recognized from seeing them on TV.

The reception was filled with music! In addition taking requests from guests, Seth McCall, a guest violinist, entertained them with some of their favorite selections. We played the classic standards, some fiddle tunes, beautiful ballades, and of course a couple of patriotic tunes! The acoustics of this great hall were fantastic, and everyone in attendance knew that this was a very special moment.

The program began with the singing of “God Bless America” which set the tone for the rest of the evening. There was excitement in the air knowing that in just a few minutes, the President of the United States would be standing within just a few feet of us all! The Secret Service could be seen from every vantage point - on the grounds, in the crowd, at the entryways, and on the second floor overlook. The presidential motorcade had arrived! Within a few minutes, The President entered through a restricted part of the home, and was escorted into the elegant dining room - a makeshift photography studio!

Music By Gerra Performs For President Bush

Being photographed with The President was very special - a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. I joked with him that we’d do a country tune or two, and his reply was, “Stereotyping me, aren’t you?” We both laughed. On a more heartfelt note, my teary-eyed sister shared with him that my father, Chester Pierchalski, a WWII veteran and Purple Heart recipient, had passed away just four months before. She said that dad would have been honored to have met him and would have been so proud to have seen me perform for his reception. President Bush, now also misty-eyed, spoke to her on a more personal level about his concerns about his own aging father. It was a very poignant moment.

It was now time for host Claude Kronk to introduce The President, which he did so beautifully. President Bush then walked into the Kronk’s grand foyer to thunderous applause! After more than an hour of speaking, The President took questions from the audience - even one from me! I thanked him putting in the national spotlight the need (and the funds) for our students to learn “critical-need” second languages that are considered crucial to our national defense in light of the tragedy of 9/11.  (Gerra teaches Japanese - considered a critical-need language). During the entire evening, President Bush was relaxed and had a great sense of humor. He spoke about his daughter Jenna’s upcoming wedding and was looking forward to writing his memoirs when he left office. Afterwards, President Bush spent a few minutes greeting the guests, signing autographs and posing for pictures. It was the perfect time to sing and play Van Morrison’s “Moondance.” A great song to close out a great night.

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