President Obama meets with Kent family before his speech


Matt Hafley

Scott Hamilton holds a picture of his late son, Adam. Scott met with President Obama on Wednesday before Obama’s speech to Kent State students at the M.A.C. Center. Photo by Matt Hafley.

Alyssa DeGeorge

President Barack Obama’s visit to Kent Wednesday was a special experience for all involved. For Scott Hamilton, owner of Singleton Reels in Mantua, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.

Hamilton and his family spent 10 to 15 minutes of one-on-one time with the President before he gave his speech. Most of the time was spent talking about Hamilton’s son, Adam, who was killed in action while fighting as an Army specialist scout/sniper in Afghanistan in May 2011.

“I thanked him from the deepest part of my heart that he would take the time to recognize our loss and he said, ‘No sir, it’s all of our losses,’” Hamilton said.

The opportunity to meet Obama came after Hamilton contacted Congressman Tim Ryan for tickets to the event. Hamilton didn’t know he’d be having a private conversation with the president until Tuesday night. To prepare, he went to the cemetery to visit Adam.

“I talked to my son and thanked him for his sacrifice and told him that he deserved this recognition—and it was all about him,” Hamilton said.

As Hamilton and his family waited backstage in the M.A.C. Center to be told where to go, he was surprised to hear a voice behind them.

“A gentleman said, ‘Scott’ and I turned around and said, ‘Hello, Mr. President,’” Hamilton said.

Obama knew all of their names and presented Hamilton with a coin that the he said he gives to gold-star parents. Hamilton gave the president a black, killed-in-action bracelet to remember Adam. Obama told him he has a special place in the White House for those kinds of bracelets.

Hamilton said he was impressed by Obama’s humbleness and respect for the military.

“I think that he is more down to earth and more of a family figure and truly cares about the average person more than anybody would ever know,” Hamilton said.

When Hamilton’s daughter, Shawney, a freshman at Mount Union, told the president she was interested in working for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Obama offered to help her attain an internship. He gave Hamilton his business card and invited the family to visit the White House.

“You better believe we will take him up on that offer,” Hamilton said.

The president’s visit was a positive experience for the Hamilton family, but also for the city of Kent.

“With all of the good things going on in Kent, to put this on top of this is just a cherry on top of everything,” Hamilton said.

Contact Alyssa DeGeorge at [email protected].