“Thanks, Obama” was a viral trend over the past few years. Everything from spilled milk to broken laptop chargers was jokingly blamed on our then-President, mocking the way that everyone somehow found a way to blame him for their misfortune.
However, I now say it not as a joke, but as a sincere expression of the respect I have for Obama. Our country was so lucky to have a man who signified grace, class, and dignity in the most respectable manner imaginable. Obama is incomparably kind, humble, and intelligent, in a way that our current President perhaps may never be capable of.
President Obama, you showed us that a President does not have to be unrelatable. From making friendship bracelets for your running down the White House halls with your dog, you never failed to remind us that you were human, too. You never stood before us as a dictator or a king, but instead, as an equal. Rather than shying away from being emotionally vulnerable in the intimidating public eye, you cried with us. You mourned our losses, and you celebrated our victories, just like the rest of us do. You reminded us that you were just another person, trying to do their job the best they could.
Thank you for being a voice for many, for those whose voices were silenced. For immigrants, for those discriminated against, for women – you have been an invaluable ally, and we can never thank you enough for standing with us and representing us.
I know you did not fight alone. To all of the Senate and House members, to your Cabinet, to all members of the government who stood with you, I extend my gratitude. The Obama administration was fearless and passionate, and I will admire that forever.
Thank you to you, and Michelle, for being the epitome of a power couple. As two people who built each other up and brought out the strengths in each other, your love and support for each other has been inspiring.
President Obama, thank you for the Affordable Care Act. You encouraged us to put the value of human lives over the value of our tax money. You pushed for causes America was hesitant to accept, unafraid of the backlash and criticism you would receive, and a result, thousands of lives have been saved. You reminded us that no one deserves to die because they can’t afford treatment.
I know that you were not flawless. I know many did not agree with everyone you said, that you made mistakes, too. I commend you for rebounding, learning from your past, and openly apologizing to those who deserved an apology. You were criticized for showing weakness, but we know those apologies were appreciated. You were unafraid to admit to your personal errors, as well as those of our nation. These apologies reminded us that America is not flawless, that our country must acknowledge its flaws in order to actively combat them.
Perhaps most importantly, thank you for being our first black President. You knew that every move you made would be analyzed and critiqued, that everyone would emphasize your flaws and understate your accomplishments. You knew that as a black man, you would have to work twice as hard to demonstrate your abilities. You knew that your Presidency will influence the fates of all future potential black Presidents. I can never stop emphasizing how important representation is, and you have shown millions of minority children across the country what they are capable of becoming and accomplishing. You have shown them that the color of their skin cannot, and will not, stop them.
Thank you for emphasizing the importance of education, of equality, of fundamental human rights.
Thank you for persevering through the last eight years, allowing our country to progress, and reminding us that while far from perfect, America is already pretty darn great.