Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kids Rock The Vote at the White House Christmas Party

In November 2009, we got an invitation to go to President and Mrs. Obama's first White House Christmas Party. We were really excited to meet the Obama's and see the White House decked out for Christmas. On the night of December 4th, we arrived at the White House and got in line to go through security with the other party guests. It didn't take very long to get through security and inside the East Wing of the White House.
When we got inside the White House, there were lights and decorations everywhere. We heard music playing and there were lots of people walking around looking at the decorations. We went upstairs and I asked a man on the security detail if he knew when the Obama's would be coming inside from the lighting of the White House Christmas tree on the White House lawn. He showed us where the Obama's would come in to greet their guests and told us where to stand in the middle of the room so that we would be at the front of the group of guests once everyone gathered to meet the President and First Lady.
Soon, guests began trickling into the room where we waited. After 20 minutes, the rest of the 200 or so guests came in and stood beside and behind us. A few minutes after that, the Obama's came down the staircase from their private residence and spoke to the group.
When they finished speaking at the podium, we all waited patiently to have an opportunity to talk to the Obama's. There wasn't an official photographer taking pictures, and the Obama's had decided that they wouldn't pose for pictures with the guests since it would have taken all night for them to pose with everyone. However, when President Obama came to meet us, he said to the crowd, "I know I said that we weren't going to pose for pictures. But I'm making an exception for these two boys-- and that's all."
The President posed with us while Mom took a photograph. He asked us how we were doing, if we were making good grades in school and told us to keep up the good work with our volunteer activities.
Then, Mrs. Obama posed for a picture, asked us if we were ready for Christmas and told us to be sure and help our mom out around the house. Then, she thanked us for coming to the party. We felt so incredibly special. Several of the adults told us that they were really jealous of the time the Obama's spent with us since most of them only had time to shake the President and First Lady's hands.

After we met the Obama's, we went into the East Room, a ballroom where the dinner was served. The food was AMAZING! There were several tables, some with different types of meat, some with fruits and vegetables and casseroles, some with desserts, and others that had lots of different drinks--almost anything you could think of that was delicious was on those tables. We met people from all over the United States. There were people who had supported the President when he was running for office, prominent political figures, war veterans, friends of the Obama's, and a few other community volunteers like us--all talking and eating together while we studied the architecture and art in the most famous house in the United States.
While we ate, we listened to a member of the President's Own Marine Corp Band play Christmas songs on the famous White House Gold Piano. Not only is it the most visually awesome piano I've ever seen, but it has an unusual tone, as well. The piano was the 100,000th Steinway and Sons instrument ever produced and was given to the White House in 1903. It has lots of patriotic symbolism in the decorations, but the most obvious are the Great Seals of the 13 original colonies that go all around the sides of the piano.
As the party began to wind down, we decided to go back downstairs and go through some of the rooms we missed on our way inside. We've been inside the White House several times before, but we were either on tours where cameras weren't allowed, or where the room wasn't included on the tour, or we were too young to remember being there. So it was great to be able to spend time inside rooms like The China Room (where all of the White House China that the presidents have used since President Washington is on display).
We also got to visit The President's Library, which isn't included on tours but holds some interesting books and artifacts including a famous lighthouse clock. It's also interesting that President John Adams (the second President of the US) used what is now the library as a broom closet and laundry room!
As we walked down the East Wing corridor to leave the White House, we got to see the Kennedy Garden lit up with Chrismas lights, and some favorite Obama Family photographs. The one of the President and First Lady watching a 3D movie with friends in the White House Movie Theater was our favorite.
It was an honor to be invited to the White House by President and Mrs. Obama and it was a night that we will never forget. Not only were the President and First Lady very nice, but they acted kind of like normal parents. That may be because they ARE parents? Anyway, the White House looks different decked out for the holidays than it does at other times of the year, and having a chance to use the etiquette lessons we learned in cotillion was pretty cool, too (even if cotillion wasn't our favorite part of elementary school). We felt very lucky to be able to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience and to be able to share it with our Kids Rock The Vote

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Your Parent's Priorities Start with YOU

The other day, a friend of ours told us that an old article that People Magazine did in 1995 about my dad taking me to work with him when I was little had popped up on a Google search. It's missing all of the 'interesting' pictures that appeared in the original article (like the one of my dad changing my diaper in his office. Yeah...).

(You can click here to read the article)

Reading this story reminded me of one of the most important things that kids can do to make a difference in our country--Make issues that are important to kids (YOU!) a priority with the adults around you.

The greatest thing that you can do for our country might be to simply remind your parents and other adults of what's most important for your future. Schools (so that you can get a good education no matter where you live), affordable healthcare (so that they can afford to take you to the doctor when you're sick), jobs (so that they can pay for your food, clothes, home and other things) and safety (so that we can all be safe and healthy wherever we are) should be some of the most important issues on adults' minds.

In the current economy, some of the most important necessities for kids might seem like luxuries. But when teachers, policemen, firemen and others lose their jobs, this really hurts kids.

TAKE ACTION: Talk to your parents this week about an issue that's important to you. Ask them for their opinions, then tell them what you think, too.
Topic ideas might include:
*What can you and your parents can do to improve your educational experience? Could your parent volunteer at your school? Could they devote 30 minutes each school night to help you with homework that you don't understand? Could you donate books that you don't read anymore to the school library or to disadvantaged children?
*What sorts of things can you and your family do to help ensure your safety at home, at school or in your community? Could you work with your parents to develop a safety plan to figure out what you would do to be safe if there was a fire in your house? Does your family have a "meeting place" where everyone knows to go in case there is an emergency and you either have to leave your house or you can't get to your house?
*What is an issue that is important to you that you would like to learn more about? (ask your parents to help you gather and understand the information on your chosen topic)

Monday, February 2, 2009

President Obama's Inauguration

Day 7: January 20, 2009
Part Three: The MTV Youth Ball
The Washington Hilton

We were SO excited on Monday when we were given tickets to one of the two televised balls, the MTV Youth Ball. There were 10 official balls that President and Mrs. Obama attended. The two televised balls, The Neighborhood Ball (televised live on ABC) and The MTV Youth Ball (televised live on MTV) were evidently the smallest and least crowded balls.

We were amazed that the ballroom wasn't crowded at all. That meant that we had a close-up view of all of the evening's events and it was really easy to get around.

We got there at 9PM and the ball was just getting started. Our seats were right beside the MTV stage where MTV News Team member Sway was hosting the live broadcast of the ball. We had only been there a few minutes when Kid Rock (at left) took to the stage. His set was great and he sang "All Summer Long".

Next up was Kanye West. I didn't know his music so well, but everybody else seemed to. The crowd was totally pumped for his set. We saw Rosario Dawson, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, and other celebrities all having fun.

Usher was one of the 'reporters' for MTV's live broadcast of the ball. During one of his breaks, Usher invited us back into his "private getaway" to meet and talk to him and have our picture taken with him. We also thought that the lady with him was his handler (the person who makes sure he's not being mauled by fans and that he gets where he's supposed to be on time for the broadcast). But some friends from MTV later told us that she was his wife, Tameka. They were both so nice to us. Usher has some new fans in our family now.

While the Marine Band was setting up for the Obama's first dance, we were sitting beside the MTV stage talking to some of the staff. One of them said into their walkie-talkie "We have Tobey," and I realized that I was standing right beside Spiderman! Tobey McGuire talked to us for a second and was so nice when we asked if we could have our picture taken with him. It was so cool. I mean...SPIDEY! Fun.

Next, President and Mrs. Obama arrived. President Obama spoke about the important role America's youth played in the election and about how he hoped the youth would put their enthusiasm into service and building a better world for their futures. Then they danced while the Marine band played "At Last". The ballroom was lit up the entire time by all of the flashes going off. The Obama's were definitely the biggest stars of the night.

Finally, our friends from the convention, Fall Out
Boy, came out and rocked the house. They played some of their big hits, like 'Thanks for the Memories' and 'Dance, Dance'. Since they came right after the Obama's, everyone was really hyped and dancing. We read later that the guys from FOB were among the many celebrities who got to the swearing-in late (as in NOT an hour or two early...) and weren't allowed to go to their seats. They actually climbed trees on the Mall and watched the swearing-in from there. Fortunately, the got to meet the Obama's backstage at the ball.

Since I still had casts on both of my legs from my surgeries, I didn't try to walk into the crowd. But one of the ball staffers walked Wes and Mom right to the front of the stage. Wes said it was really fun.

At the end of their set, Pete Wentz threw his guitar pick to Wesley. But it bounced off of Mom and some guy picked it up off the ground before Wes could grab it. Wes was not pleased since he's a big fan of Pete's AND he plays the guitar. Still, he had a great time watching Pete, Patrick, Joe and Andy play from 10 feet away.

Before we left, Mom and I danced (as much as I could in casts!) up on the dais.

Overall, it was a great night. Washingtonian Magazine (which rated all of the balls) rated the Youth Ball 20/20--the best of the Inaugural balls. I totally agree.

TRIVIA: The first inaugural ball was held in honor of George Washington in May of 1789. But, it wasn't until the 1809 inauguration of President James Madison that the Inaugural Ball became a fixture on Washington DC's social calendar. In 1809, 400 ball tickets were sold for $4 each.
Day 7: January 20, 2009
Part Two: The Inaugural Parade
The White House
Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC

The press and inauguration officials warned us
that we would not be able to attend both the swearing-in and the parade. We would have to choose, because of all of the security checkpoints and roadblocks set up to try to keep the President safe. But when Mom's friend "Jonathan the Magnificent" gave us six 'Golden Tickets' for us to sit in the reviewing stand next to President Obama's stand at the White House, my dad and our friend Pat Merkle would NOT be deterred.

We had to be in our seats thirty minutes before the parade started. This meant that, after the inauguration, we only had an hour to go from the Capitol to the White House (sixteen loooong blocks from the Capitol) and get through all of the security lines before we would be blocked from watching the parade. Dad and Pat came up with a strategy to drive from Pat's house by the capitol, all the way downtown (away from the parade), then cut back down as close as they could get to the White House and park at Pat's office downtown(hopefully).

IT WORKED! We made it! We got front row seats right on the street where President Obama walked.

Then we waited while the parade procession slowly made its way all the way from the Capitol to our seats at the White House. Finally, we saw all of the police lights and knew that we wouldn't have to wait much longer. First, Vice President Joe Biden and Mrs. Biden got out of their car and walked in front of us. Their family was walking with them, too. They looked really happy.

Next, we saw the new Presidential limosine coming toward us with police and Secret Service people everywhere around it. Just as the President's limo got close to the Presidential reviewing stand beside us, the limo stopped and the Obama's stepped out. They waved at everyone and started walking down the street.

First, they walked in front of their stand where their families and closest friends were waiting for them. Then, they walked in front of us. It was so cool! They waved right at us! Luckily, my dad took the picture to the left just as they were waving at us.

After the Obama's passed our stand, they got back in their limo and drove around the corner, past the OEOB (Old Executive Office Building, where the Vice President's office is located.) A few minutes later, we watched the Obama's come into their reviewing stand and greet their family and friends.

In this picture of Wes and me, you can see the Obama's right between us in their stand.
It was great seeing the President and First Lady up close, but we were FROZEN! So we left the parade and came back to the Merkle's so that we could get ready for the MTV Youth Ball!

TRIVIA: Martin Van Buren's 1837 Inaugural parade was the first to include floats.
TRIVIA: In 1881, President Garfield became the first President to review his Inaugural parade from a stand in front of the White House

Sunday, February 1, 2009

President Obama's Inauguration: Day 7

Day 7: January 20, 2009
Part One: The Swearing-In Ceremony
US Capitol Building, West Front

Today was really exciting. And it was COLD!!!. Fortunately we had enough hand and toe warmers for us, and some left over for the Coast Guard guys who worked as ushers for hours in the cold without coats. We wore six layers of clothes. We put hand warmers on our heads inside our hats. We still froze.

But if there is one thing I've learned, it's that if you want a decent seat for an inaugural event, you have to get there early. There are no reserved seats--for anyone--except the President, Vice President, and their families. For everyone else--even Members of Congress--there are reserved sections. There might be thousands of seats in your section. You're either in the front or the back, depending on how early you are willing to get there.

This is even true for big celebrities. I saw Dustin Hoffman in the section beside us over two hours early, claiming his seat just like us. Other celebrities were disappointed when they arrived later and didn't have a seat at all!

We were really lucky because our US Senator, Bob Bennett, was the head of the entire inauguration. He gave us an amazing section to sit in. We were sitting with all of the Tuskeegee Airmen (WAY cool!) They were really nice and so proud to be there to see President Obama sworn in.

There were more than a million people on the Mall (the long grassy area between the Capitol and the Washington Monument) to try to see the inauguration. Some people who had tickets to see the inauguration up close didn't get in because the security machines didn't work. It was sad that thousands of people came to DC from all over the country and didn't get in to the swearing in. But lots of people did. And it was a great show.

The Swearing-In ceremony started with a prayer and a couple of musical numbers by people like Aretha Franklin and YoYo Ma. Then the Vice President was sworn in.

The President is supposed to take the oath of office at exactly 12 Noon. This time, the oath was given a few minutes late. It was exciting when it finally happened, though.

Our seats were way up at the front on the capitol steps. But we could hear the people all the way down the mall by the Washington Monument cheering and shouting "O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!" In the picture to the left, President Obama is standing with his family to take the oath of office.

In this picture, President Obama, his wife Michelle (in the yellow dress) and his daughters Sasha (in the orange dress) and Malia (in blue on the right--you can see her face over the rail) are waving to the crowd after he was sworn in as our 44th President. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, (who gave the oath to President Obama) is standing between Malia and Sasha.

Then the President gave his inaugural address. He talked about hope and courage. He told people all around the world that America wants to be their friend and that they should expect good leadership from their own governments. He also warned people who wanted to hurt us, like terrorists, that if they do something against us, we WILL fight back.

After President Obama's speech, there was a poem read and another prayer. When the inauguration ended, we hurried back to the Merkle's house so that we could get to the parade really fast so that we didn't get locked out.
TRIVIA: Until 1937, the Vice President took his oath of office in a "separate and distinct" ceremony from the Presidential Inauguration and was sworn in inside the Senate Chamber just prior to the President's more public Swearing In ceremony on the East Front of the Capitol (before 1981) or the West Front of the Capitol (since 1981).
TRIVIA: When the President's oath is running past 12 Noon (like it often does, and did this year) the clocks at the Capitol are stopped so that the requirement of a Noon oath can be "met".

President Obama's Inauguration: Day 6

Day 6: January 19, 2009

Today was SO much fun! After lunch, we went to RFK Stadium to participate in the National Day of Service. The Obama's opened the event. Then everyone was off and running in a sort of conveyor belt to fill goodie bags for soldiers overseas. The picture on the left is of Wes and one of the PIC (Presidential Inaugural Committee) volunteers who was about his age and was helping hand out goodies for the bag.

There were lines where you could go through and fill bags full of shampoos, toothbrushes, gum, phone cards, and lots of other stuff. Since I was still in my
wheelchair after my surgery, my dad pushed me and I filled bags for both of us. We figured out how to carry four and five bags at a time. Our family filled over 150 bags in a little over half an hour.

While we were there (over half-way through the day), they reached the 60,000 bag mark. I bet they filled 80,000+.
Getting bags with things that they can't get overseas will probably make the soldiers pretty happy.

Then, we signed cards to the troops and told them how grateful we were for their sacrifices and service. As a family, we met our goal of writing 100 cards. Our time at the stadium was a lot more fun than Wes and I thought it would be and I'm glad we went.

Later, the Merkle's took us for a special treat--to dinner at a great restaurant on the water in Annapolis. The food was great and it was a fun time. On the way home, we stopped at a fishing store to buy hand and feet warmers. It is so cold here, I'm pretty sure those will come in handy.

RFK Stadium (named for President John. F. Kennedy's brother, Robert) appears as a location in at least four video games: MLB 07: The Game; Major League Baseball 2K6; MLB 06: The Show; MVP Baseball 2005

Saturday, January 31, 2009

President Obama's Inauguration: Day 5

Day 5: January 18, 2009
Hi, this is Wes. Today, Mom and I went to the Opening Celebration for President Obama's Inauguration at the Lincoln Memorial while Dad and Will moved our stuff over to our friends, the Merkle's, house. The price for our hotel room went $500 higher today. YIKES! So our friends who live right on Capitol Hill, the Merkle's, are nice enough to host us for the rest of the time we're here.

So, anyway, mom and I walked to the Memorial and found our seats. The good news is that we had great seats because we got there early (most people had to stand up). The bad news is that we had to wait for more than two hours in the freezing cold for the show to start. I was so cold that I was begging Mom to leave when the show first started. But she put more handwarmers in my shoes and gloves, and we stayed. (Moral of this story: Be prepared.)

I'm glad we stayed because the show was totally amazing. We were pretty close to the front, so we could see everything. But we also had a jumbotron screen to the side of us so that we could see all of the bands and singers up close.

So, the show started with Bruce Springsteen. That was pretty cool. I've never seen him in person and he was great. Then the Obama's and Bidens were introduced (this picture to the left is of them together waving to the crowd from the stage before they went to their seats.

Then lots of other performers came on. And I mean LOTS! There were people like Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington who talked about past presidents, like Lincoln, Kennedy and Roosevelt and talked about things the Presidents had said and done to give people hope when things were bad.

There were so many bands and singers that I can't remember everyone. Some of them were Jon Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crowe, Beyonce, Usher, James Taylor, Mary J. Blige, and lots more.

However, I only got up out of my seat twice. First, Garth Brooks came on and sang "American Pie" with a big choir. That was awesome. I know every word of that song. But then, they started singing "Shout!" The entire place got up and put their fists in the air for Garth. It was AMAZING! In the picture above, you can see everyone with their fists and cameras in the air while Garth dances across the stage in front of the choir.

The second time I got up out of my seat was for U2. BONO! LIVE! One of the song's they sang was "In the Name of Love"--definitely one of their best songs. This picture of me with U2 in the background. Our seats were actually more over to the center, but mom didn't want to block other people while we took the picture. The next picture is of U2 from our seats. They were amazing.

Yeah, it was freezing cold, but I think it was worth it to get to see all of these great musicians and stars in one place. Also, it was really exciting to see the Obama's and Bidens. Everybody was so happy and excited about the inauguration. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Trivia: The statue of Abraham Lincoln inside the Lincoln Memorial shows one of President Lincoln's hands open and the other in a fist. Many people believe that the sculptor, Chester French, did this as a tribute to his deaf son and to memorialize Lincoln's signing of legislation that allowed the deaf university, Gallaudet, to grant college degrees. It is said that his hands are actually forming his initials, "A" and "L" in American Sign Language.

President Obama's Inauguration: Day 4

Day 4: Saturday, January 17, 2009

Today started off with Wesley and me watching a bunch of our favorite shows on Discovery Channel and History Channel (yes, these are our favorite channels. Deal. haha) while our mom wheeled and dealed to get us event tickets (all we had as of this morning was Swearing-In tickets). Having pulled that off, thanks to her new best friend "Jonathan The Magnificent", we headed to the US Capitol.

Since my dad was a Congressman, we can go into the Capitol even when it's "closed". So tonight we took Maggie (the volunteer coordinator from the Obama for Utah campaign and friend from school) and her dad on a private tour of the capitol. It's good to go at night when it isn't packed with people so you can see everything. It was also fun showing Maggie places that aren't open to the public. The first place we took her was the floor of the US House of Representatives. This is where congressmen debate and vote on legislation.

In the first picture above, I am standing where President Obama will stand to give the State of the Union address and where lots of other presidents have stood, as well. If you look closely, you can see Wesley sitting in the Speaker of the House's chair, and Maggie standing beside him.
In the second picture to the left, Wesley is standing at the podium that is used for the State of the Union. This has been the House Chamber since 1857. Before that, the House of Representatives met in Statuary Hall (also called the Rotunda).

Next, we showed Maggie the Speaker's Lobby balcony. This area is not open to the public because it is sort of a "sanctuary" for members of congress. In the Speaker's Lobby, you can find newspapers from all over the world. Members can go there and read a paper between votes. In nice weather, they can go out on the Speaker's Balcony and relax on a lounge chair with a great view of the city. There are also a few work tables so that members of congress can meet with each other and still be close to the House floor for votes.

Then, we showed Maggie Statuary Hall (or Rotunda). This is one of the most amazing rooms in the capitol. It is where the capitol dome is. The Rotunda used to hold statues of two important citizens from each state. However, when it got too crowded, the Architect of the Capitol moved some of the statues to the Brumidi Hallways that go through the House and Senate sides of the Capitol. Now, some of the statues have even been moved to the new Visitor's Center. The picture to the right is Maggie with the statue of Brigham Young that is still in Statuary Hall.

Before 1857, Statuary Hall served as the House Chamber. John Quincy Adams is the only US President to serve in the US Congress after completing his Presidency.

In the next picture, Wesley, Maggie and I are testing out the crazy acoustics in Statuary Hall that once allowed John Quincy Adams to overhear his political foe's whispers from all the way across the room. The story goes that Pres. Adams (who served in the House for several decades after his presidency) would pretend to be sleeping at his desk. In fact, due to a quirk of architecture in the domed room, he was listening to every word that was whispered by his foes across the aisle. Today, there are plaques on the floor that show you where to stand to test out Adams' technique yourself. We toured the rest of the capitol, then went to our friends, the Merkle's, house for a nice fondue dinner. It was a really fun night.
TRIVIA: John Quincy Adams had a stroke while sitting at his desk in the House Chamber (now Statuary Hall) and died two days later in the Speaker's Office in the Capitol.
TRIVIA: There are actually eight different levels in the new US Capitol Visitor’s Center, but the public will probably only ever be allowed to see the top two.

President Obama's Inauguration: DAYS 1-3

Day 1: Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
At the end of November, I had a surgery on my Achilles tendons and have been in casts on both legs for two months. So, today we left for DC to attend President Obama's Inauguration...and discovered how hard it is to travel with a wheelchair. We didn't rent a car for the trip, so we are taking the subway everywhere and walking (or riding in the wheelchair!) alot. It gives me a lot more appreciation for people who use wheelchairs all of the time. It would be very hard to get around town without help. I'm so glad I get my casts off when we get back home.

Today is also Wesley's birthday, so we went to Union Station for dinner. Our friends Pat and Richard Merkle, who live a block away from Union Station, met us there. It was fun seeing them since we're not in DC very often. Since I had several huge projects due before we left for DC, I was really tired. So we went back to our hotel, watched Discovery Channel for a while, then crashed. TRIVIA: Union Station (pictured left) is the site of President Obama's Eastern States Ball, as well as several other balls and dinners during inaugural week.

Day 2: Thursday, January 15, 2009
Today was a slow day. We didn't leave the hotel til 1:30 PM. Then we went to the Capitol to pick up our inauguration tickets and have a late lunch. We walked through the capitol and looked at the exhibit in th Senate corridor about past inaugurations. It was interesting to see what inaugurations used to look like. TRIVIA: All of the inaugurations at the US Capitol were held on the East Front of the Capitol (where the new Capitol Visitor's Center was just built--shown at the top of this entry) until President Ronald Reagan held his on the West Front (facing the Mall).

Day 3: Friday, January 16, 2009
Today we visited embassy row and Woodrow Wilson's retirement home (shown left). We walked up Massachusetts Avenue where there are lots of Embassy's from different countries around the world. Then we got to President Wilson's home. There we saw the interior of the home and a presidential china collection that was almost exactly like the one they have in the China Room at the White House. It was at President Wilson's house because his wife, Edith, actually started the China Room Collection at the White House.
Since I had casts on both legs, we got to ride in President Wilson's old Otis elevator (a picture of Wes and me in the elevator is on the left). It was awesome to think how many times he used that same elevator, too, since he had a stroke right before he left the White House and had a hard time taking the stairs. We spent several hours with the nice curator there, and my mom and I got some interesting ideas for the book we are writing together about DC.
After we left the Wilson home, we walked to Connecticut Avenue for dinner and passed more Embassies. It was fun to see all of the flags and to try to guess which countries flags they were before we got close enough to read the brass plaques on the door.
Along the way, we found this cute Panda painted with Chinese designs. Then we went to dinner and watched the unbelievable story of the plane that crashed into the Hudson River. That pilot was a hero, for sure. Today ends our laid back, "Enjoy DC" part of the trip. Tomorrow the real stuff starts.
TRIVIA: If you are on the property of a foreign embassy, you are theoretically on that country's soil. So, let's say, you are on the property of the British Embassy in DC, you are considered to be on "British Soil"--not American. And while you are on the grounds of the British Embassy, British law applies. So, theoretically, if you are walking along Embassy Row, you can go to dozens of countries within an hour's time--without a passport!