Like most Americans, I stood glued to the television to witness the second inauguration of my country's 44th President. As I watched in great anticipation of seeing history made for a second time, I was reminded of the first time I saw then candidate Barack Obama speak. As a high school student, I traveled miles to attend one of the first Obama for America campaign rallies in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. I stood with my friends for hours to a see man who promised the crowd of thousands a changed America in which the problems of the average and struggling Americans would be pushed to the forefront of policymaking.
As my eyes swelled with excitement, Barack Obama took the stage and the audience went wild. Though we were in the presence of one of the world's greatest leaders, we were reminded that Barack Obama was human just like us. Obama conveyed the message of perseverance as he informed audiences of his struggles to put himself through college and his work as a community organizer, within impoverished Chicago. He faced the same economic hardship and life struggles that the average American battles everyday. I stood in awe of a politician that shared my same skin color and humble beginnings. No one thought he'd to rise to be one of the greatest politicians of our era.
This speech was given in 2007, as the Great Recession touched down on my community and across the United States. The president spoke of bringing hope and change to Washington, D.C. through financial reform. The greater rhetoric of his candidacy and presidency surround the theme of economic equality in exchange for an economy riddled by corruption and run by the wealthiest 1 percent.
The then candidate desired to use his presidency to ensure that economic mobility, including access to higher education, greater employment, and improved health care, were not opportunities solely reserved to the rich. He spoke of his mother's struggle with uterine cancer and how she spent her dying days battling her heath insurance provider. He promised to work not solely for the interest of corporate America but for the common man through health care reform.
As a double-organ transplant recipient, I face similar struggles to that of President Obama's mother. Until the election of our current president, issues of health care reform had rarely been brought to the vanguard of the American political stage. The impact of the Affordable Care Act ensures that the voices of those living with health issues are heard, as I am now covered on my parent's health insurance until age 26.
Nearly five years later, here I stand as a college student still mesmerized and inspired by the president. The beauty of President Obama's words then and now is that they still resonate with people from all walks of life, whether you're black, white, gay, straight, disabled, elderly, rich, poor, woman, or a man. His speech was the first inaugural address to cite gay rights. The rhetoric of this discourse included a range of issues from civil rights to women's rights. The inclusive nature of this inauguration echoed the message of President Obama's ability to bring issues of people of color, women, immigrants, and the gay community to the frontline.
The president's statements of inclusion inspires recent Tufts University graduate, Danielle Cotter, "I look forward to four more years under the leadership of a president who is inclusive, and who is willing and ready to lead the way so all Americans (regardless of race, gender, disability, class) fully enjoy the rights granted to them by the Constitution."
The president's words are more than simply promises, rather, they are representative of a changing America in which the issues of the underrepresented and underserved are finally acknowledged and no longer ignored. As a gifted orator, I hope the president's words inspire more cooperation to move our country forward.
In sum, this piece is a simple thank you to President Barack Obama for four years of diligence and dedication to people like me. Thank you for giving a voice to so many Americans who felt silenced. Thank you for serving as an inspiration to millions by setting out to do the impossible and accomplishing the unimaginable. Lastly, thank you for giving us hope and bringing about change.