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Teach ’em how to say goodbye

Dylan Cohen, Staff Reporter

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“Tonight,” President Obama starts, “it’s my turn to say thanks.”

After serving the country for eight long years, Barack Obama addressed America as our president for the last time on Tuesday, January 10.

The address lasted a total of 50 minutes and pulled around 17 million viewers watching among NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX.

Obama chose to speak at McCormick Place in Chicago, the birthplace of his political career. The venue is also a few miles from where he gave his victory speech in November of 2008.

Getting tickets to the Farewell Addressed was chaotic. Scalpers made up to $5,000 a ticket online. Audience members, including Maddie Powder (12), described the hysteria.

“It was crazy,” Powder said, “people were running everywhere, and no one knew what was happening. The lines were moving, but we didn’t know where we were going.

Luckily for Powder, she was able to obtain one of 18,000 tickets to the Address.

“We went through this tunnel that was all lit up red, white, and blue, and there was patriotic music playing,” said Powder.

Obama’s Farewell both acknowledges the great strides our nation has made within his presidency, as well as discussing his worries for the future.

Accomplishments

  • Reversed great recession
  • Rebooted our auto industry
  • Invoked the longest stretch of job creation in our history
  • Unemployment rate is at 10-year low
  • Revitalized diplomatic relations with Cuba
  • Shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without violence
  • Defeated  Osama bin Laden
  • Legalized gay marriage
  • Secured the right to health insurance for 20 million American

Uninsured rates have never been lower in history!

“The part where he talked about terrorist organizations,” said Powder, “He said, ‘Yes, they can attack us, but there’s not going to make an impact unless we give up our values.’ I thought that was interesting.”

The commander-in-chief wrote his address with the aim to remind Americans, regardless of party affiliation, that our democracy is unable to succeed without the people living under it. This sense of unity was palpable in both the audience and at home.

“The energy in the room, there was so much energy. It was a really diverse group of people, but you’re all united by Obama,” said Powder.

The president also highlighted several issues that need to be addressed to better our nation moving forward

Parting advice

  • This serves as an encouragement to the minority community as “this nation was strengthened” by its minority groups. Additionally, this states a challenge to the white community: do not remain silent about these issues.
  • Do not give way into fake media or polarized discussions.
  • The moment we lose trust in our institution is the moment it begins to crumble. Accept your responsibilities of citizenship. Hold your senators accountable for attending meetings. Get involved in local governments. VOTE. You have been given the privilege to live in a democracy that people have fought and died for. Do not turn a cheek and ignore it.
  • Allow for a safe, welcoming transition for our president-elect.
  • Work towards minimizing the stark difference between the top one percent and our middle class
  • Hold more people accountable for racial discrimination in the workplace, housing, education, and the criminal justice system
  • Do not grow weary of opinions that differentiate from your own. Rather, grow from them. Unless these opinions are ignoring proven science.
  • Hold our government accountable; it is not a government without the people it governs, so their efforts should be put to benefitting us, the American people.
  • In juxtaposition to the last point, do not take this democracy for granted.

This may have been Barack Obama’s final public Address as our president, but now he is assuming a role just as, if not more, important: citizen.

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The student newspaper of Vernon Hills High School
Teach ’em how to say goodbye