MODESTO -- A Modesto family will rub elbows with the first family Friday in the nation's capital.
Manmeet Grewal, his wife, Jaskiran, and their four young children will be part of a group of about 150 Sikh Americans honored by President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. The ceremony is to mark the birth of Sikh founder Guru Nanak Dev Ji, who was born Nov. 28, 1469.
Grewal, 32, is a local businessman and active Democrat. He was one of five delegates from Stanislaus County who attended the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in early September.
He received his invitation Nov. 26 to Friday morning's event at the Eisenhower Building in Washington. This week, his wife and their children sons Armaan, 8, and Vardaan, 1, and daughters Gulsayn, 5, and Japsayn, 3 also were officially cleared to attend.
"For me, it's an honor," Grewal said Wednesday morning. "Furthermore, it's a honor for the entire Sikh community."
At the convention, he and other California delegates had lunch with the first lady, but he didn't see the president other than the night he accepted the nomination and gave his speech.
"I was in Charlotte by myself," said Grewal, who has never been to Washington. "When you're doing it with your family, it's a different level."
The family will spend most of today flying from San Francisco. Before the Grewals return Monday, they'll take a VIP tour of the White House on Saturday and will try to see as many of the monuments and museums as possible over the weekend.
What will he say if he has a chance to speak to the president?
"I would just thank him, not only on behalf of our community but on behalf of the entire nation," Grewal said. "I think he's going out of his way to acknowledge freedom is upheld."
Grewal operates a holding company with extensive interests in the region farming, hotels, commercial real estate and houses. Jaskiran Grewal is a dentist with offices in Modesto, Patterson, Ceres, Riverbank and Escalon.
He admits to always being something of a political junkie at Johansen High School in Modesto and in college at the University of the Pacific, or in leadership roles within his temple. He's up for election next month to the state Democratic Party Committee. And when his children are a little older, he intends to run for local office, with an eye on the Legislature later.
"I want to start from the ground up," Grewal said. "I'm trying to represent the most people; to respect them and keep an open mind. That's what I think politics should be."
Bee Senior Editor Dave Lyghtle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2315.