What Obama Means to Me This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 26, 2009
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Two years ago, Obama meant nothing to me. His name did not ring any bells of hope or change or bring huge traffic to my hometown. However, just a year later, he became the Democratic nominee for president and his name rang the bells of history. Obama meant history was in the making.

Six months ago, Obama meant ­debates at the school lunch table and people selling his campaign buttons for five bucks and the scratched ones for three. Obama was my friend’s Halloween costume, and if a house had a McCain sign, he would take his mask off, get the candy, then say, “Vote for Obama.”

On November 4th, Obama meant campaigning was finally over. His ads would stop. His signs would be taken down. My family watched as the election was called and he won. To think that I thought it was all over that night … I thought his name would fade from the news ­because it would never again hold that suspense it had carried before the election. I was wrong. It only intensified. Every day the news brought something about him: “Today Obama met with President Bush,” “Today he is in town looking at schools for his daughters.”

Obama also meant some unexpected claims-to-fame for my family and friends. He attended the same high school as my stepdad. Apparently everybody called him “Barry” back then. One of my friends goes to the school in D.C. that Malia and Sasha now attend. She said she sees Malia and Sasha sometimes and the Secret Service walks around a lot. “One of the agents looks like a gorilla,” she noted.

Finally, on January 20th, Obama meant a day off from school. Being locals, my mom and I decided we would regret it if we missed such a historic event. So we timed our inauguration outing perfectly. We watched Obama get sworn in on TV. Then we took the Metro, which was practically empty. Once in D.C., we were instantly met with throngs of people. They blanketed the National Mall, the streets, and the Metro stations, most looking overwhelmed or just plain lost.

We walked in front of the Capitol where huge ­jumbotrons showed the Obamas going to a luncheon while we waddled outside in the cold. My mom and I walked between the rows of empty plastic chairs, like a sea of soldiers facing the inauguration platform. Litter tumbled by: newspapers with headlines related to the inauguration, the wrappers from hand warmers, a lonely glove, empty water bottles, and even a blanket from an expensive hotel. The Capitol reflecting pool was frozen, so people were out on it, sliding, dancing, or cautiously toeing the ice. I joined them, starting to feel like I was a part of something.

The crowd was enormous, bigger than any I had ever seen in Washington. They were bundled up, holding flags and wearing Obama pins. We met all sorts of people from almost everywhere. There was a couple all the way from Hawaii, wearing fresh but tired-looking leis and capris with long socks. Some people were dressed in traditional African clothing. We also saw a guy in an Obama superhero suit – a white spandex bodysuit with “Obama” written across the chest and fake muscles poking out everywhere. People had been asking him for pictures all day, he said nonchalantly as he leaned back in his chair at a Japanese restaurant, as if that was the most normal thing. And it was, because on inauguration day, I wasn’t surprised.

My mom and I challenged ourselves to wave to all the media. We waved to CNN. We waved to NBC. We jumped up and down and shouted “OBAMA!” whenever a camera passed. By the time we claimed our spot to watch the parade, I was freezing. The procession ­started at last, and lines of ­soldiers and bands marched past. A big truck inched by with cameramen in the back, aiming their cameras at the cars behind them.

Then a black car rolled by and the crowd ­started screaming … but it turned out to be Secret Service. Finally another appeared and we knew it was him. It was President Barack Obama. There was screaming and camera flashes. There was shoving and craning for a better look. There were squeals and gasps. And at the same time, it felt like slow motion. The car inched past. Even through the tinted windows, you could see our president ­grinning, and he gave us a wave.

After Obama passed, we watched the rest on TV in a restaurant. On the streets, people were selling everything Obama: T-shirts, buttons, key chains, mugs, and pictures of him from every angle (some more flattering than others). Then there were the “Take your picture with Obama” stands where you could stand next to a cardboard cutout.

After the inauguration, Obama represented not ­only an office, but also a person. At first, Obama was just a name. Then he was a face, a slogan, and a voice. Now, he was a person – very human as he gave one of his goofy grins that seem to say, This is all for me? As he entered the presidency, he became one of the unattainables. He is now in a fish bowl of scrutiny and admiration. He’s a celebrity, an influence, but that smile he flashed as his car passed us reminded me that he is still only human.

Humans, while not perfect, are capable of extra­ordinary things. Obama has already brought people together: from Hawaii and Kenya, Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites, young and old voters, and the many who stood in the cold on January 20. I feel like “Obama” should be added to the dictionary. What other word describes hope, faith, unity, change, expectation, history, and leadership in just three ­syllables?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 104 comments. Post your own now!

faypirate23 said...
May 18, 2010 at 6:16 pm
I LOVE OBAMA i was the only one in my school who liked obama besides three other ppl hes a whole hell of a lot better than bush thats for sure hes my home boy!
Icypyro replied...
Jul. 1, 2010 at 6:10 pm
Wow... that's all I have to say about that!
Mickey123 replied...
Oct. 19, 2010 at 11:24 am
Fay you are right, W. Bush was one of the worst presidents we have ever had
faypirate23 replied...
Oct. 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm
hallaeuhhhhur or however you spell it butt yeah bush is the one that got us in what were in obama cant do anything about it.no one could. no one could possibly get us out of this mes and all teens know is what their parents tell em i believe what I believe not because someone else does.
iknowyourheart said...
May 18, 2010 at 5:35 pm
Although I disagree, Ithink your writing is wonderful :)
Icypyro said...
May 18, 2010 at 7:15 am
What's Obama done to help our country yet?!?! NUTHIN, THAT'S WHAT! So much for "Change"...
Kaileigh918 replied...
Jul. 1, 2010 at 2:45 pm
Ugh, the only reason he hasn't done much is because the republican idots won't let him do anything!
Icypyro replied...
Jul. 1, 2010 at 6:05 pm
Seriously?!?! THE REPUBLICANS?? Take a look at the House and the Senate, girl, and see who has control of it... the Democrats, that's right. And who's the idiot, not being able to spell the word idiot right in their reply, jeez.
Kaileigh918 replied...
Jul. 1, 2010 at 7:18 pm
it was a stupid typo, I know how to spell idiot. god... i mean, really. YOU ARE SO IMMATURE!!!! Suprise suprise, it was Sarah Palin's daughter that got pregnant.
Icypyro replied...
Jul. 18, 2010 at 12:25 pm
Once again, ANOTHER typo! The word is surprise not suprise. Wow, lady, wow.
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 22, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Ok Icypyro, you are what is known to the world as the quarrelsome quibbler.  It is term first coined by AgnotTheOdd on 7/22/2010 at around 6:13 PM, though when this comment is submitted, it will be later.  See the quarrelsome quibbler is one who, during an argument, raises petty objections bearing no true relevance to the matter at hand, to distract from the initial subject.

If you'd like an example, allow me to assume the role for this paragraph.  Wow man...wow in your ... (more »)

Icypyro replied...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 10:46 am

Okay, I spelled "nothing" wrong on purpose. If you have a cell phone and text, you will realize that in "texting language", "nothing" is often spelled as "nuthin". And yes, I know my name is contradictory. You would think I would look into my name before I used it as my username, right?

Oh yeah, Kaileigh918, I forgot to tell you on my last reply, that comment about Sarah Palin's daughter came WAY out of left field. Stick to the topic of conversation next time you have an... (more »)

Icypyro replied...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 10:54 am
Oh yeah, Mr./Ms./Mrs. AgnotTheOdd, it's hard to take criticism from someone who calls themself "odd" in their name. I just can't take you seriously, especially your self-coined phrase, "quarrelsome quibbler". It sounds like something my grandma would use. No wait, even she wouldn't use that.
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 11:32 am

Yo dude.  I think that like...totally someone needs to just..like...take a chill pill man...relax a little.  Perhaps a back massage?  

You just can't stop quibbling, can you?  If you like, I can tell you plenty of the things Obama has done.

And I am aware of texting language, I was just using that as an example.  You're taking things a bit too seriously.  Lighten up.  Giggle.  Cavort.  Frolic. Dance, sing - maybe even in the rain. &nb... (more »)

Icypyro replied...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 7:10 pm
My back actually does hurt just a bit...=) Anyway, you couldn't take me seriously because of the implications of my username, so the implications of yours are grounds for me doing the same.
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 11:09 pm
Except i was simply using that as an example of quarrelsome quibbling.  I do not actually believe that.
Icypyro replied...
Jul. 24, 2010 at 8:23 am
Chewie said...
May 3, 2010 at 3:45 pm
Man, I'm getting sick of people accusing Obama of being terrorist or communist, honestly what proof do they have. Jeez how can someone say so much about something they know little about
Winter-Wolf replied...
May 18, 2010 at 10:43 pm
Yes, I agree. It is going to take a little while for Obama to be able to fix all that Bush screwed up! Give him a break. He actually has done a lot already, and is on the road to creating many new environmentally friendly policies to help our world.
SomeSense replied...
Oct. 19, 2010 at 11:26 am
Finnally people with logical minds
Sarbear This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 10, 2010 at 8:43 am
this is amazing. i can tell how strongly you feel about what he's done in your life. love this! check out some of my work too :)
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