Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News
Vice President Dick Cheney arrived at Salt Lake International Airport at 1:56 p.m., nearly two hours after various groups lined Provo sidewalks to both decry and support the vice president, who is in Utah to speak at Brigham Young University's commencement rites.
Cheney, who is scheduled to speak at 4 p.m., was greeted at the airport by about half-dozen state Republican leaders, including Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah Republican Party Chairwoman Enid Greene.
The vice president was accompanied on the flight on Air Force Two by Utah Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah.
Cheney left the airport in an 11-car motorcade without speaking to reporters.
He was immediately shuttled to the Salt Lake headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to meet the church's First Presidency.
Cheney left the Church Office Building shortly before 3 p.m. Some 100 people gathered near the LDS Church's Conference Center in an effort to catch a glimpse of the vice president as his motorcade left for its Provo destination.
One man said he saw a hand waving at the crowd from one of the vehicles.
Cannon said topics during the flight to Utah ranged from education to the war in Iraq. As for the protests against Cheney, Cannon said he thought they were "highly irrelevant." Cheney's remarks will be important, Cannon said.
"This is a great honor for Utah," the congressman said.
On a campus where dissent is unusual, a few dozen people protested quietly ahead of Cheney's arrival, holding signs reading: "Mormon for peace" and "Make soup, not war."
A handful of veterans holding a peace banner stood on a street corner off campus.
"We can actually speak against this ridiculous and imperial war," said Aaron Davis, a Vietnam veteran with two sons who have served in Iraq.
However, at a nearby city library, College Republicans and others passed out U.S. flags and held up welcome signs.
"We are just here to show there's a lot of support for the vice president in Provo," said BYU student Colby Green, 22, of Orem. "We wanted people to know that the vocal minority is not the majority."
By 2 p.m. the line of family and friends waiting to enter the highly guarded Marriott Center stretched around the building. The doors opened at 1 p.m.
Yet the thousands waiting to watch their loved ones march across the stage were in good spirits, calling the event "an honor" and "historical."
Some 20,000 people are expected to attend today's commencement.
"I'm excited to see Dick Cheney," said freshman Stefanie Tanner, from Seattle, Wash. "I think it's added a little excitement, more attention to commencement."
Tanner's parents traveled by airplane from Seattle to watch Tanner's brother, sister and sister-in-law graduate.
Tanner and her father, Gordon, were in line by 1:20 p.m. and said they were excited about the pre-commencement entertainment, which included Vocal Point, the Young Ambassadors and other BYU performance groups.
Each person who entered the Marriott Center was required to present a ticket, allow security to search purses and bags, walk through a metal detector and then be inspected by a security officer with a metal-detecting wand.
"It makes me feel safe," said Jared Carpenter, who came to support his wife, Toni, who is graduating. "Having such a high-profile person here, I think it's necessary."
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