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President Obama Bids Farewell to the Whitehouse and Executive Office A Firsthand Account

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On Tuesday January, 10, 2017, my family and I were given the once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the final major public speech of Barack Obama’s presidency. This, however, was not my first time witnessing President Obama speak. The first time I heard the president speak was when he came to Chicago in November of 2014 to address the immigration issues circulating at the time. I remember exactly what it felt like freshman year, nervously waiting in the Dean’s Office for my mom to pick me up early from school so that we could make our way to the city. We got the tickets for both events from my amazing cousin Emily Boyle, who works as an Associate Director of Scheduling for the President and helps to plan his trips all around the world.

Thanks to Emily, I got to witness two unforgettable speeches during Barack Obama’s Presidency. The Farewell Address was a bittersweet moment that will be shared around the world for generations to come. Throughout this speech, Obama referenced quotes from his acceptance speech presented in Grant Park after he won the 2008 election against Republican Nominee John McCain. He touched on all of the influential accomplishments the American people have achieved throughout the past eight years, including the legalization of gay marriage in all 50 states and the Affordable Care Act. The most important point that the President stressed to the American people was to get involved. He encouraged Americans to “accept the responsibility of citizenship,” and “to believe in your ability to bring about change.” He urged citizens to “get off their cell phones,” lace up their shoes, pick up a clipboard and start knocking on doors when faced with an unsatisfactory politician. “Democracy buckles if we give into fear,” Obama stated, encouraging the American people to get active within their communities, and to start participating in local elections, as well as federal.

While my family and I stood in the security line for almost 3 hours, the atmosphere was buzzing with smiles, excitement and positive energy. Everyone in line was mingling, making conversation to pass the time while waiting to go through security. People of every race, creed and sexual orientation were in attendance. We passed numerous people with bedazzled t-shirts sporting Obama’s campaign logos, as well as hats featuring a spin on Donald Trump’s famous “Make America Great Again,” or bearing the blue and yellow LGBT equality sign embroidered on the front. It was truly amazing to be a part of something so amazing and meaningful.

A total of 24 million viewers tuned in to watch the broadcasts of the speech. Some noteworthy attendees were present among the approximately 8,000 spectators packed into McCormack Place Convention Center. On the way to the stage area, my family and I met David Axelrod, Obama’s former Senior Advisor, as well as Pat Quinn, former Illinois Governor. When we entered the stage area, we spotted Rahm Emanuel, current mayor of Chicago, former White House Chief of Staff under the Obama Administration, former Senior Advisor to the President, and an Illinois Representative of the 5th District.

When the First Family and the Biden family took the stage at the end of the speech, the crowd gave a standing ovation filled with cheers and tears. Barack Obama’s farewell speech was bittersweet, filled with tears, laughter and encouragement. He finished off the night with the words, “Yes we can. Yes, we did.” The Obama Administration and family have left an indelible mark on history that will continue to inspire generations to come.

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The student news site of Benet Academy
President Obama Bids Farewell to the Whitehouse and Executive Office A Firsthand Account