(Eagle News) — Outgoing US President Barack Obama declared his belief in a democratic America that will champion US values of freedom, equality and respect for all humanity even after he leaves the Oval Office.
Obama, in an emotional farewell speech in his hometown of Chicago, said he thinks that the American people did quite well in the past eight years and urged his audience to believe in their power to change the world for the better.
“Yes, we can. Yes we did. Yes we can,” Obama said as he ended his speech that had been well-applauded by an audience, who at certain points of the speech were also moved into tears.
“You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands,” Obama said.
He mentioned his administration’s achievements including the fight against terrorism and against ISIS.
-Obama tells Americans, “Believe in your power to bring about change.”
The 44th US President assured his fellow Americans that he would not stop in serving his nation even after he leaves the White House, and said it was the “honor of my life to serve you.”
I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain. For now, whether you’re young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President – the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago,” he said.
Obama added: “I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.”
“I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes We Can. Yes We Did. Yes We Can,” he said.
Obama also called on the US citizenry to remain vigilant and fight the forces that will undermine US democracy.
“We must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are,” he said.
“That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans who are just as patriotic as we are. That’s why we cannot withdraw from global fights – to expand democracy, and human rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem,” the US President said.
-US President pushes fight vs discrimination-
President Obama talked about fighting discrimination, and making sure that all Americans, no matter what the color of their skin might be, would have an equal chance to prosper in the United States. This means investing in and protecting immigrants.
“If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce,” he said.
“Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require,” Obama said.
But the outgoing US President said that “laws alone won’t be enough” for this.
“Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
-Obama thanks his family and his staff-
During his speech, he thanked his wife, US First Lady Michelle Obama and his two daughters, Vice-President Joe Biden and his family, and his White House staff for working with him in the past eight years.
“Michelle – for the past twenty-five years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud,” he said as he turned emotional while looking at the First Lady.
“Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad,” Obama said.
Addressing his Vice-President, Joe Biden, Obama said, “You were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best. Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother. We love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our life.”
“To my remarkable staff: For eight years – and for some of you, a whole lot more – I’ve drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back what you displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, and start incredible new journeys of your own. Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we’ve done is the thought of all the remarkable things you’ll achieve from here,” he said.
-Trump mentioned only once, peaceful transfer of power assured-
He made mention of Republican Donald Trump, who will replace him in just 10 days, only once.
He assured the peaceful transfer of power during his speech.
“In 10 days the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy,” he said.
When some in the audience booed, Obama said, “No, no, no, no, no. The peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected President to the next. I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me.”
(Eagle News Service)