It was a moment to savor.
For a time, a 28-year-old wife and mother from Chattanooga stole the spotlight from the president of the United States.
Lydia Flanders was the center of attention for local and national media and countless people at Amazon as she introduced President Barack Obama and they met in a smiling embrace on Tuesday.
The image was captured and displayed across the front page of the next day’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.
When she saw it, “my mouth just dropped open,” Flanders said. “The entire top half of the fold [in the newspaper] is Lydia and Obama. It was amazing.”
In the days since, co-workers have bought extra copies of the newspaper and asked her to autograph them. People see her in passing and try to hug her. She has received calls and Facebook posts from friends and family and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, her alma mater. And local media have been contacting her seeking interviews.
Flanders said she lives with more joy and appreciation after being the one employee selected from among nearly 2,000 at Amazon to introduce Obama.
“I can’t express the feeling of excitement and joy from just being in the vicinity of the president that I voted for,” she said. “I got to see him and hug him.”
But the best part is the impact she hopes the president had on her children. They got to meet him, too, and she said she wants their encounter to give them a larger view of success.
“I want my daughters to see that anything is possible, that you can go anywhere,” said Flanders.
Her children said they enjoyed meeting the president, but 9-year-old Madison, her middle daughter, said she had no doubts about her future even before she met him.
She wants to be a doctor.
“As long as I believe, I can be a doctor. I know I can,” said the Ooltewah Elementary School student.
Eleven-year-old Nastacya said she is going to be a fashion designer.
“I can do it,” she said. “I’m not giving up.”
Flanders said she’s even more motivated now to pursue her dreams of home ownership and excelling at Amazon.
“I believe there is something in store for everyone,” she said. “You just have to keep going until you find it or sometimes it finds you.”
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6431.
Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...