Monday, August 16, 2004

10-year-old stirs thousands

But today, Bush is audience of 1

By Reid Forgrave
Enquirer staff writer

DOWNTOWN - Alexandra Amend sat near the Joe Nuxhall statue outside Great American Ball Park before Sunday's Reds game, looked down and fiddled with a blade of grass.

Less than an hour before she was to play the national anthem on her violin before tens of thousands of baseball fans, was the soon-to-be sixth-grader at Summit Country Day School nervous?

Prior to the Reds and Padres game at the Great American Ball Park, Alexandra Amend plays the National Anthem in memory of Specialist Matt Maupin, whose parents are in the background.
(Enquirer photo/MICHAEL E. KEATING)
"A little," Alexandra said, wearing an apple red halter dress.

Or was she more nervous about today, when the 10-year-old will meet President Bush as he hops off Air Force One before an appearance at the VFW convention in Cincinnati?

"I'm more nervous about the game," she said.

"President Bush is only one person," said her father, Kenneth Amend of Mount Airy.

"This is 40,000 people."

But for the girl who has played violin six years and also plays flute and piano, performing for a good cause is something she's become accustomed to.

After Sept. 11, Alexandra wanted to do something charitable with her talents, so she started playing her violin in public areas around Cincinnati - in front of the Aronoff Center for the Arts, on Fountain Square, sometimes as often as four times a week.

Since then, Alexandra and her Girl Scout troop have raised more than $5,000 for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund, a fund for the children of fallen soldiers.

Bush is meeting with Alexandra to thank her for answering his call to community service.

Bush created the USA Freedom Corps in 2002 with the goal of having all Americans devote themselves to community service for either two years or 4,000 hours over the course of a lifetime.

At the Reds game, Alexandra was joined on the field by Keith and Carolyn Maupin, the parents of captured Spc. Keith Matthew Maupin, the 21-year-old Union Township (Clermont County) soldier who has been missing since April 9.

"I have lots of respect for the courage that it took for Matt to join the military, and I will never take his service to our country for granted," Alexandra wrote in a thank-you letter to the Maupins for accepting her invitation to the game.

"It takes a very special person to be willing to sacrifice so much for their country."

And Alexandra's performance before the game?

"She calmed down, and she did a great job," said her mother, Maureen.



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