Greensburg Two-and-a-half years ago, the idea that he would ever attend a White House Christmas party would have been unthinkable to Greensburg Mayor Bob Dixson.
But as with everything, the May 4, 2007, tornado that devastated the southwestern Kansas town changed all that.
The town’s devastation, recovery and rebuilding process have drawn the attention of two White House administrations.
So, when Dixson learned earlier this month that he and his wife, Ann, would be invited to President Barack Obama’s Christmas reception at the White House, it wasn’t quite as unthinkable as it would have been prior to the tornado.
Still, Dixson says he’s humbled at the “extreme honor.” And, he’s excited to have the opportunity to represent Greensburg, Kiowa County and southwest Kansas in Washington.
“It is the citizens of Greensburg and Kiowa County who are being recognized by the White House with this invitation,” Dixson said.
The Dixsons will fly to Washington, D.C., on Sunday and attend the Christmas reception Monday before returning to Greensburg on Tuesday.
This will be Bob Dixson’s second trip to Washington at the request of President Obama.
In February, he was invited to sit in first lady Michelle Obama’s box during the president’s address to a joint session of Congress.
Greensburg City Administrator Steve Hewitt also has been the guest of a different first lady. Hewitt was invited to sit in Laura Bush’s box during then-President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address in January 2008.
Bush also made two visits to Greensburg — the first just days after the tornado and the second to give the commencement address at the Greensburg High School graduation.
“Seeing that two different administrations have been interested in what is happening in Greensburg kind of shows that what we’re doing here transcends politics,” he said. “It’s about hope and good news and community. It’s about our story.”