Obama, thanks for the mo­ments & mem­o­ries

Red Eye Chicago - - The Chatter - Lela Olds

On Tues­day, I was for­tu­nate enough to ex­pe­ri­ence live and in per­son the end of an era for who I be­lieve was ar­guably one of the best pres­i­dents ever—No. 44, Barack Obama. It was the per­fect way to end what has been a his­toric pres­i­dency. As I wiped my eyes to­ward the end of the speech, I couldn’t help but rem­i­nisce on some of my fa­vorite mo­ments from the past eight years.

I’ll ad­mit, I wasn’t aware of the sen­a­tor from Illinois who was rising through the po­lit­i­cal ranks. How­ever, when he ran for pres­i­dent, I be­came a sup­porter. In 2008, I had no prob­lem stand­ing in line with my fam­ily for a few hours to vote early. I wasn’t go­ing to miss out on vot­ing—for hope, for change, for Amer­ica’s first black pres­i­dent. On Nov. 4, 2008, I cried tears of joy. It felt sur­real. My fam­ily and I sat and stared at the tele­vi­sion in amaze­ment as we lis­tened to his vic­tory speech in Grant Park, with his beau­ti­ful fam­ily by his side. What a story I would have for my fu­ture chil­dren!

On Jan. 20, 2009, I wanted to make my way to Washington, D.C., to watch as Obama was sworn into of­fice. In­stead, I took a per­sonal day from work and watched from my bed­room with tears stream­ing down my face. Be­tween Aretha Franklin and her hat, Malia and Sasha’s cute lit­tle J.Crew out­fits and Michelle and Barack walk­ing hand in hand wav­ing proudly, I felt like I was right in the midst of it all. Then, for Obama and the first lady to end off the night danc­ing to one of my fa­vorite songs “At Last”… just stick a fork in me. I was done.

In March 2010, Obama won a his­toric vic­tory with Obamacare be­ing signed into law. Fast-for­ward one year, he de­clared, “Tonight, I can re­port to the Amer­i­can peo­ple and to the world that the United States has con­ducted an op­er­a­tion that killed Osama bin Laden ...” Yes, POTUS! Wins all around.

Obama con­tin­ued to give us many more mem­o­rable mo­ments, some pres­i­den­tial and some show­ing why he’s sim­ply a re­mark­able hu­man be­ing. What pres­i­dent gave us Al Green’s “Let’s Stay To­gether” so ef­fort­lessly at the Apollo Theater? Later that year, he echoed the sen­ti­ments of most Amer­i­cans as he stood at the podium to tear­fully ad­dress the Sandy Hook tragedy. Time and time again, he re­minded us that he was not only our pres­i­dent, but a reg­u­lar per­son just like the rest of us.

Al­though he was hum­ble, Obama had a few mo­ments where he re­minded us that he is still THE man, and we bet­ter never for­get that. Let’s never for­get the 2015 State of the Union ad­dress where he had a rare cocky mo­ment and stated, “I have no more cam­paigns to run … I know be­cause I won both of them.”

In my opin­ion, the good far out­weighed the bad dur­ing Obama’s eight years in of­fice. We will never have, at least not any time soon, a cooler, calmer, more fam­ily-ori­ented and just plain ol’ DOPE pres­i­dent than Barack Hus­sein Obama. We are at the end of an amaz­ing era and en­ter­ing into un­known, chal­leng­ing ter­ri­tory. But as Obama so elo­quently ex­pressed on Tues­day, we must be vig­i­lant but not afraid.

That’s why I proudly stood in line with my friends for hours to get a stand­ing-room-only ticket to hear Obama’s farewell ad­dress in the city I love so much, the city where it all started for him. That’s why I screamed like never be­fore as Obama stood at the mic and said, “Hello, Chicago.” That’s why I chanted “FOUR MORE YEARS” and meant it. That’s why tears filled my eyes and even­tu­ally fell as he gave a heart­felt shout-out to his wife and daugh­ters. That’s why I made sure to doc­u­ment my first and last Obama speech live on Snapchat and saved them to Mem­o­ries. It’s def­i­nitely my fa­vorite Obama mem­ory.

As he said Tues­day, “Yes we can. Yes we did.” He’s cer­tainly earned the right to go play ball, lie on a sandy beach with his wife, take his daugh­ters to lunch and sim­ply re­lax. Next week, he can drop the mic one last time and say “Obama out.” It’s been real, Pres­i­dent Obama.

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