Last weekend, President Barack Obama hosted the G8 summit at Camp David in Maryland. And it brought the small rural community of Thurmont, Maryland, into the international spotlight. The meeting of eight of the world’s most powerful economic leaders in this little town was by far the most significant event that ever happened in our county.
Here’s what I know about Camp David: it is a presidential retreat located in Thurmont, Maryland, at the bottom of Catoctin Mountains. Before World War 2, it used to be called Shangri La, or imaginary paradise, but President Dwight Eisenhower changed its name to Camp David in honor of his father and grandson. Judging by the surrounding national parks, the views must be spectacular. (Judging by recent photos released by the White House, the décor inside Camp David needs a little updating.) On the Fourth of July, Camp David puts on the best display of fireworks in the county. I know this because every year I go to summer camp nearby, and we stay up late to watch them.
Since Camp David is not open to the public I can never figure out exactly where it is, and that’s just how the Secret Service likes it. Catoctin Mountain Park does not indicate the location of Camp David on its official park maps due to privacy and security concerns.
Security was heightened in Thurmont because of the G8 summit. Sheriff’s deputies aided by state troopers were on hand to handle the couple hundred demonstrators concerned about Ethiopia. They protested against President Obama’s decision to meet at Camp David with representatives of the Ethiopian government, which they consider to be an repressive regime.
Everyone agreed that the G8 coming to town was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But not everyone was pleased about it. Local shop and restaurant owners didn’t have much business going on because police closed several downtown Thurmont roads after five busses loaded with protesters descended on the town in the morning.
However, at least one group was surely happy: students. Much to our delight, county schools were closed Friday, May 18, since Sheriff Chuck Jenkins was worried that heavy traffic might get in the way of school busses.
As for me, I finally understood what people mean when they say they can see the world changing under their eyes. The G8 summit in Frederick County, Maryland, helped me realize that sometimes the world can change in your very own backyard.
Photo: President Barack Obama meets with Eurozone leaders on the Laurel Cabin patio during the G8 Summit at Camp David, Maryland, May 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)