This past Tuesday, January 10, the incomparable President Obama gave his farewell address. His final national speech to the country, and the world, as the 44th President of our United States. With tears rolling down my face, I experienced a mélange of emotions as I tried to process what this great man was saying, and how his leaving office would impact the course of my life and the lives of so many others.
I was sad. I was angry. I was scared. I still feel all of those things. But for perhaps one of the first times since the election results… I was hopeful again. I reconnected with the original creed put forth by the Obama-Biden campaign more than 8 years ago— Yes We Can!
President Obama’s address was so well written and presented, there wasn’t a word, phrase or even a breath that wasn’t in some way part of a larger message. He reminded us that despite the more contentious state of disagreement in our political system currently, our history is still a story of progress: “Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard. It has been contentious. Sometimes it has been bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.”
He reminded everyone of all that we, collectively, have accomplished and reminded us that we are still capable of accomplishing greatness in the future. In one of the most poetic moments of his farewell address, he echoed the sentiment in the immortal words of President John F. Kennedy, given during his inaugural address, asking not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. He posed: “So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when you own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.”
And this Thursday, we give thought to those final three sentences.
“Yes we can. Yes we did. Yes we can”.
President Obama is asking that we do not give up- that we continue to fight the good fight. I don’t know about you but “I serve at the pleasure of the President,” (in this case the soon-to-be former President) and starting on January 20th, I will be ready and reporting for duty.