It’s time for one big, last thanks, Obama.
Thanks, Obama, for:
- passing health care reform that has helped 20 million Americans gain health care coverage.
- rebounding the economy from its recession low, adding 15.5 million jobs and presiding over record-setting continuous job growth.
- serving as Commander in Chief during the overthrow of Osama bin Laden.
- providing American leadership in the 2015 Paris Agreement, securing our commitment and that of numerous other countries to stalling and reversing global climate change.
- saving the U.S. auto industry, with our $62 billion investment already repaid at over $70 billion.
- leading the push to secure LGBT rights, resulting in the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, with same-sex marriage recognized as the law of the land.
- passing the Fair Sentencing Act to ameliorate the disproportionate drug imprisonments for the poor and people of color.
- cutting the federal deficit from 9.8% to 3.2%
- signing the Lily Ledbetter fair pay act.
- de-escalating Iran’s nuclear program.
We could continue.
Today, President Obama becomes Citizen Obama. Still, we know that he’ll always be our president, the same way my grandparents proudly claimed JFK as their own decades after he was gone.
Here’s the thing about all of us who benefitted from President Obama’s policies and considered him the finest president of our lifetimes: we’re all still here. We’re all still America. We still have the progress from the past eight years, even if we have to grasp harder than we imagined to hold on to all of it. We still have that message of hope and change. We still have the rapid transition in Americans’ social mindsets that occurred over the past eight years, and we still have a generation of children who grew up only knowing a Black president. And someday, those children will be our leaders. We’re all still here, with the benefit of eight years of solid leadership, positivity, progress, idealism, empathy and resilience.
President Obama will soon be president no longer, but he’s still here too. This one goes out to Obama and America, a relationship we’ve loved for the past eight years – and that doesn’t sunset on January 20, 2017.
President Obama fist-bumps custodian Lawrence Lipscomb in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. December, 2009. (All photos by White House photographers Pete Souza and Lawrence Jackson)
“A few days after the mission against bin Laden, the President traveled to New York City to meet with families of the 9/11 victims. He also visited at Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 Firehouse. The firehouse, known as the “Pride of Midtown,” lost 15 firefighters on 9/11 — an entire shift and more than any other New York firehouse. Here, the firefighters offer an impromptu toast to the President in honor of their fallen comrades during a lunch at the station house.” May, 2011.
“The President visited Joplin, Mo., following a devastating tornado. Here he greets Hugh Hills, 85, in front of his home. Hills told the President he hid in a closet during the tornado, which destroyed the second floor and half the first floor of his house.” May, 2011.
“One of the most poignant days of the year was when Ruby Bridges visited the White House. Ruby is the girl portrayed in Norman Rockwell’s famous painting, “The Problem We All Live With,” which depicts Ruby as she is escorted to school on the court-ordered first day of integrated schools in New Orleans in 1960. When the Norman Rockwell Museum loaned the painting to the White House for a short period of time, the President invited Ruby to view the painting while it was on display outside the Oval Office
“A soldier hugs the President as he greeted U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.” May, 2012.
“The President hugs Stephanie Davies, who helped her friend, Allie Young, left, stay alive after she was shot during the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo. The President visited patients and family members affected by the shootings at the University of Colorado Hospital. The President later told their story in a news conference.” July, 2012.
“Overcome with emotion, eight-year old Make-A-Wish child Janiya Penny reacts just after meeting the President as he welcomes her family to the Oval Office.” April, 2012.
“The overview of a campaign rally in Urbandale, Iowa. This view was from a scissors lift just above the press stand.” September, 2012.
“I had noticed the possibility of a potential good photograph if the President were to pass by this flag as he departed an evening campaign rally in Dubuque, Iowa. So I planted myself backstage as he finished working a ropeline and managed to get one usable frame as he walked by.”November, 2012.
“Four Presidents. One funny story. Presidents Carter, Clinton, Obama and Bush wait backstage to be introduced during the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.”April, 2013.
Alternate title: four private citizens who have the same president as us.
“Thelma Maxine Pippen McNair, mother of Denise McNair, whispers to the President after he signed H.R. 360, which provided for the presentation of a congressional gold medal to commemorate the lives of the four young African American victims of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in September 1963. McNair’s daughter was one of the victims.” May, 2013.
“You can’t always predict what will happen even when the President has a pre-arranged lunch during a stop on his college affordability college tour. Here, during a lunch with college students, recent graduates and educators, a young child plays on the floor nearby at Magnolia’s Deli & Cafe in Rochester, N.Y.” August, 2013.
Shout out to our hometown!
“Call it the Shake Shack slide. As he is wont to do, the President normally does a group photo with restaurant staff when he stops for lunch or dinner somewhere. After having lunch with Vice President Biden at a Shake Shack in Washington, D.C., the President asked me where he should stand for the photo. Before I could even reply, the President jumped on the counter and slid onto the other side. The Vice President soon followed.” May, 2014.
A surprise walk around the White House. May, 2014.
“Chief of Staff Denis McDonough came to the Oval Office one afternoon and said to the President, ‘let’s take a walk.’ So they proceeded outside the White House gates to a Starbucks on Pennsylvania Avenue. On the way back, the President stopped to greet street vendor Saied Abedy, who was born in Afghanistan. I later selected this photograph to hang as a ‘jumbo’ print on the walls of the West Wing. Several months later, after the jumbo print had been replaced with a newer photograph, we were tipped off that a White House staff member was giving Mr. Abedy and his family a tour of the West Wing one night. So we retrieved the jumbo print of him and hung it back on the walls of the West Wing. I later heard how emotional his family became when they saw the photograph on their tour.”June, 2014.
“During remarks on the economy in Austin, Texas, the President was heckled about immigration by two young men in the audience. After being interrupted again, the President told the men that he wanted to finish his speech but would be happy to have a conversation with them later. As soon as he left the stage, the President told his staff to bring the two men backstage so he could indeed talk to them about immigration.” June, 2014.
“The President was meeting with a group of mentees in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. As the meeting was coming to a close one of the participants challenged the President to a game of HORSE. ‘Let’s go,’ the President responded, and the entire group walked down to the basketball court on the South Lawn. In addition to the shooting competition, the President also used the opportunity to further talk to the young men about life lessons, not basketball.” October, 2014.
“It was supposed to be just a simple early voting by the President at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Chicago, Illinois. When Aia Cooper, left, and her fiancé Mike Jones, far right, walked by to also cast their ballot, Jones quipped, ‘Mr. President, don’t touch my girlfriend.’ The President replied, ‘I really wasn’t planning on it,’ joking that Jones was ‘an example of a brother just embarrassing you for no reason.’ When the President finished voting, he reached over and gave Cooper a kiss on the cheek.” October, 2014.
Watch the video. It’s real good.
“For Presidential trips, I usually have another White House photographer accompany me so he or she can preset with the press and obtain angles that I can’t, as I usually stay close to the President. Lawrence Jackson made this iconic image from the camera truck as the First Family joined others in beginning the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.” March, 2015.
President Obama unexpectedly breaks out into Amazing Grace while giving the eulogy for or South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was one of nine victims in the Charleston church shooting. June, 2015.
“The President was playing golf at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif. As he was finishing his round, he began to shake hands with guests waiting for a wedding ceremony about to begin. The bride and groom were waiting inside but when they looked out the window and saw the President, they decided to make their way outside. I made a grab shot as the bride, Stephanie Tobe, and her soon-to-be husband, Brian Tobe, came running to greet the President. I made sure to send a copy to the happy couple and both wrote back to me that they were extremely grateful to have the President ‘crash’ their wedding.” October, 2015.
“President Obama watches the First Lady dance with 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin in the Blue Room of the White House prior to a reception celebrating African American History Month.” February, 2016.
Also an accompanying video that will make your heart explode.
“The excitement in his face says it all. Bill Mohr, 108 years old (not a typo), was the oldest living World War II veteran when he met President Obama after a Veterans Day breakfast at the White House. Bill passed away a couple of weeks ago and his family released a statement including this sentence: ‘Meeting a sitting President was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for our father, who was a true patriot.’” November, 2016.
Farewell speech. One last time. January, 2017.