People across the country gathered to watch President Obama deliver his final address to the American people in Chicago, Ill., on Tuesday night. As the speech began, social media newsfeeds and timelines were flooded with posts and photographic tributes thanking Obama and his administration as many millennials began to openly mourn the end of his presidency.
For many at Andover, Obama assumed the Office of President of the United States when we were just old enough to understand what the position meant to America and to the global community. The rest of the world watched as the United States elected its first black president. Regardless of political ideologies, we were all aware that the country was changing.
Change has been a staple of Obama’s two terms in the Oval Office. It is what he campaigned on, leading crowds in chants of “Yes, we can!” across the nation. For Obama and those who have supported him, change was something to be achieved, to be fought for. The words were also some of his last on Tuesday night, repeated to deafening applause.
As Obama’s time as president ends, it seems fitting to look back to the beginning, to reflect on the America that Obama has always believed in and fought for. His iconic campaign poster, a blue-and red-tinted image of his face, chin tilted upward, eyes raised, featured the word “Hope.” His presidency became synonymous with the word, the idea that a more courageous, equitable, and good America would come to be, if only its citizens believed in it.
Obama’s address called upon America’s history of unrest and progress, unspeakable transgression, and relentless recovery. He asked American citizens to look within, to remember America’s greatest shames and most outstanding accomplishments. And he asked Americans to look forward to coming years, to continue fighting, to “embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours…”
Obama has reminded us that the United States is on the brink of change, as it has been many times before. The nation is poised, caught in transition between presidential administrations, largely unsure of what the next four years will bring. One does not need to have been an ardent supporter of Obama and his administration to recognize that the next four years will likely be a drastic departure from his style of leadership. Together, people around the world wait.
In some of the concluding thoughts of his speech, Obama spoke directly to our generation, which he described as “altruistic” and “patriotic.” He praised our vivacity and our commitment to change, expressing his confidence that the nation will survive and prosper in our hands. Obama pleaded with us on Tuesday to believe “not in [his] ability to bring about change — but in [ours].” With these words, he offered hope in a time that has been, for many, less hopeful than past years.
Thank you, Obama — for giving us hope, and so much more.
This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian, vol. CXXXIX.