'Why me?' Army wife says she wondered Family excited by seats with Mrs. Clinton

State Of The Union

January 24, 1996|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Rosana and Annabell Monte of Fort Meade will have plenty of news to tell their husband and father, Evelio, when he calls again from Sarajevo.

As the family of a staff sergeant deployed in the NATO peacekeeping mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Montes were among those chosen to sit with Hillary Rodham Clinton as President Clinton delivered the State of the Union address last night.

"It's exciting, and [I am] so nervous," Mrs. Monte, 32, said yesterday afternoon as she rushed to get ready for the car that would pick up her and her daughter. "They chose me, and I said, 'Why me?' "

The two were chosen to sit with Mrs. Clinton when Department of Defense officials called the headquarters of the 55th Signal Company at Fort Meade to find a spouse and at least one child of a soldier who had been deployed in the NATO mission, according to a Fort Meade spokesman, Don McClow.

Mrs. Monte and 8-year-old Annabell represented the families of all members of the military stationed in Bosnia and around the world helping the United States keep the peace, according to White House spokesman Mike McCurry.

Sergeant Monte last spoke with his wife and daughter about two weeks ago, so he did not know that they would be sitting with the first lady, Mrs. Monte said.

Last night, the two were scheduled to meet Gen. Dennis J. Reimer, Army chief of staff, at his home in Fort Myer, Va., before heading to the Capitol. In all the excitement, Mrs. Monte said, she didn't know if they would be served dinner.

Others sharing the spotlight with the Montes last night included Sgt. Jennifer Rodgers and Richard Dean, a Social Security employee who helped rescue victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, Mayors Norman Rice of Seattle and Richard M. Daley of Chicago, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and his wife, Marion.

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