Adieu, Obama: 'Yes We Can'

01/11/2017 01:15 pm ET Updated Jan 16, 2017
John Gress / Reuters

How do we say goodbye to a man who’s presence will be felt for eternity? President Barack Obama leaves office, and behind him a legacy that will go down in history as one of the greatest to ever rule over this nation. He is a man that challenged and created, he molded and maintained, and he led and he listened. He so graciously gave us the audacity of hope and for that, he must never be forgotten.

Obama is an orator. While watching his final address to the nation, I was transported back to 2008. Witnessing the first African-American president to win the title of President of the United States sent shivers down my spine. It reminded me that anything is possible and gave me something greater to live for: change. Even after being met by arguably the greatest opposition any sitting president has ever faced by Congress and constituents, he leaves office with a staggering approval rating. This man gave hope to the hopeless.

During his speech he waxed poetic about the glory of the democratic ideal and how it is up to us to continue his legacy. Not only his legacy, but the legacy of the founding fathers. He challenged the meaning of liberty; sometimes subtle and sometimes not. He challenged Americans to engage each other versus debate on social media. Delivering several messages to PEOTUS Donald Trump to not ignore evidence and logic, he rallied Americans behind the meaning of democracy. He stated, “Yes, our progress has been uneven.  The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes 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.”

At some point this nation has to return to the time where fighting for what we actually believe in, was how you get what you want. We have to throw away our sense of entitlement and desire to ignore things that we don’t particularly agree with, to see the greater good. “Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.” He goes on to say “Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands.  It needs you.  Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.”

My final thought, while I mourn the end of a prosperous and exciting era in this country, is not about Obama; but the crowd. Looking out at the audience I saw America in its true form. I saw people from all walks of life. Age, gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation. The melting spot spilled over at McCormick Place. That is something that we will never see at a Trump event. That is something that ‘we the people’ must continue to strive for and if the incoming administration does not see it, then we will take it to them.

“My fellow Americans. Yes We Can. Yes We Did. Yes We Can!”

Thank you for all that you are Obama!

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