Remarkable People: Obama's Farewell

And so, it ends. An era of hope, progress and righteousness concludes. While one shouldn’t let bias beliefs taint Trump’s presidency only a few days into his 4 years in power, it is difficult to imagine his time in the White House could live up to Obama’s forward thinking terms.

Tuesday 12th January saw Barack Obama give his farewell speech in his hometown of Chicago. The speech was centered on the people; those he described as being at the heart of our democracy, not the institutions or monuments but Americans who work and make sacrifices for their country. This speech was not a tale of Obama’s successes, or about highlighting his achievements; Trump wasn’t even mentioned. A refreshingly un-political speech was delivered. Instead, the people were greeted by a speech about hope, belief in humanity and the future. A key statement, “this is not a period, this is a comma”, gave hope to the millions watching and restored faith that, although the near future may be rife with uncertainty, it will not last forever.

As expected, Obama gave thanks to the military. Yet again, his approach to this came from an ulterior angle, with him emphasizing it’s not about the “cool” weapons or machinery, but again about the “committed patriots” who are working and willing to sacrifice everything for their fellow Americans. Especially, Obama highlighted, without fanfare or celebration, working not for praise or reward, but to fulfill their duty as a citizen.

Respect and acceptance were also key themes throughout the speech and Obama made it clear they are not to and cannot end during the forthcoming “pit stop”. People working together, discussing ideas and finding common ground has been one of the outcomes of his presidency Obama said he was most proud of. Those who previously could not pronounce “Barack Obama” are now walking with him on the streets and supporting his march towards a future of diversity and cooperation.

Obama frequently referred to his wife Michelle, reminding us of their existence as a collective entity. He then gave further appreciation to the public, not just for the work they put into his campaigns and supporting him directly, but for the work they do in maintaining the safety of our planet and giving hard working people a ladder of opportunity; it was overtly evident how thankful Obama was for those who have worked with him over the past 8 years.

Thus, it concludes with Obama explaining that his time as President has been the “privilege of his life” and Michelle’s too; the journey continues and Obama reassured millions when he said he would be “right there with you” along the way. In line with the people being the central theme throughout this whole speech, Obama remarked he couldn’t wait to see “what you do next”, challenging people to stand up for themselves, their rights and America. “It all comes down to remarkable people” he said and although his historical presidency is now over, he reminded citizens of their capabilities and the power they hold to make change: “yes we did and yes we can”.