President Obama returned home to Chicago for one last speech as commander-in-chief. His Farewell Address given at the McCormick Place on January 12, reminded Americans to embrace the political challenges we face as a country, and to not let it continue to drive us apart. Obama’s presence behind the podium as well as his eloquent delivery reminded Americans why they elected him in the first place. His passion to bring people together in times of despair allowed him to become the first African-American President.
Since bursting onto the national political scene in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention, Obama has delivered a number of large, bipartisan speeches including his seven State of the Unions and the latest one being his Farewell Address. In the hour long speech, Obama spoke about threats to our democracy, the economic status of the nation, race relations in America, and about the future. Many lines brought the welcoming crowd to their feet, evoking the spectacle of an Obama address one last time.
“I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than when we started,” said Obama in the speech.” “It has been the honor of my life to serve you, and I won’t stop.”
Obama also expressed his gratitude to Vice President Biden for his long career in public service and dedication to the job as vice president. Referring to Biden as the “scrappy kid from Scranton [Delaware],” Obama noted the importance of Biden’s service as VP.
“You were the first decision I made as a nominee,” said Obama in the speech. “And it was the best.”
Michelle and Malia Obama were both in attendance as well, and the loudest cheer of the night came when President Obama recognized his family for their love and support throughout their eight years in Washington D.C. Michelle Obama certainly stands out as one of the most influential First Ladies. Her efforts to improve causes like worldwide education for women, healthy habits for kids, and racial equality stand out among her accomplishments.
“You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody,” said Obama of Michelle in the speech. “You have made me proud, and you have made the country proud.”
After the speech ended, hundreds of people remained in the hall, cheering their long goodbye to the President. His address truly marked the end of an era in American politics, in addition to the transition of power from one administration to the next. It seems as though the Trump team is working toward reversing many of Obama’s accomplishments, and we can only hope to limit the effects of the intense political divide in our country today. George Washington, in his Farewell Address, warned Americans about the dangers of party polarization and about the dangers of creating foreign alliances. Although there is constant partisan rhetoric and our nation is caught in a web of international conflicts, the promise of America and the liberties it stands for will always remain.
photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons