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!

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 :)
dan_wills07 replied...
Jan. 7, 2012 at 10:02 am
Excellent essay about Obama.
lizzykittylover replied...
Mar. 20, 2012 at 10:17 am

"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?"

Are you trying to gag me? That is just terrible! Obama has only destroyed our country. He has brought our country into more trillions of debt and brings taxes only higher. He doesn't raise his hand over the heart during the National Athem. Sadly, our president has no real respect for our country. ... (more »)

Brookelyn said...
Mar. 25, 2010 at 9:48 pm
thank you! finally an open mind instead of a bunch of up tight teenagers whos parents tell them that obama and liberals are bad and "complain" about americas mistakes...and even a year afterwards obama has occomplished good things and in 2 years when his term is over I hope you write another paper on this...I'm not exactly a die hard american citizen I move all over, but having someone like him in office is worth it...
Icypyro replied...
Jul. 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm
Acomplished good things such as... what? I'm not seeing anything as of right now.
Brookelyn replied...
Jul. 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm
Health care for starters? One of the first presidents to tackle health care and when he does america complains, when no one has health care america complains...or should I say the majority of republicans who are mad there is a democrat in office
Icypyro replied...
Jul. 4, 2010 at 7:41 pm
Okay, healthcare that'll put us another billion/trillion in debt, I'll give you that. Great job, Obama.
Dawanna M. said...
Jan. 25, 2010 at 8:09 pm
socialism_is_evil123 said...
Dec. 15, 2009 at 2:43 pm
President Obama is a huge disappointment- that's really all I can describe him as. He has all of the wrong views and policies for this current time. His "achievements" that the liberal media parades around have scarcely been earned by him. I mean, seriously, who was the idiot(s) that decided to award him with the Nobel Peace prize? For what? For escalating a war? Economically, his policies will prove to be disastrous for America and he'll be voted out in 2012. He is too radic... (more »)
Gatorpoet replied...
Dec. 15, 2009 at 4:41 pm
Obama is a celebrity not a politition. He goes around the world appologizing for how bad America is when he hasn't done anything to fix it. His socialist views might burry this country and the nobel peace prize was a joke. The nation at a time like this does not need a leftwing that the country does not need right now. To put it in a view of kid related activites this is Obama's plan. Imagine little kids going out tricker treating and getting a whole bunch of candy. The comes Mr. Obama... (more »)
Icypyro replied...
Jul. 1, 2010 at 6:12 pm
Sean W. said...
Sept. 18, 2009 at 7:16 pm
Yes Obama is a ledgend in the world of politics, by being the first black president, But, it does not mean he is instantly the best thing for america, while he has done some great things in his presidency, most of what he has done is not very good for what obama wants....
i am not saying he is a communist, i am just saying he is not the right man for the job... Mabye he could fire a few people that are more interested in lying to the people of america..... and maby he could live up to cam... (more »)
despurlock This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 1, 2009 at 5:20 pm
This is phenomenal! I was at the inaguration with a youth leadership camp (PYIC) and I feel like I am back where I was on that freezing January day, trying not to get lost from my friends as we all huddled together with strangers sharing the saqme enthusiasm at wittnessing the history our children would read about in history bookd. You have done a fantastic job. Keep writing, this is great!
Tiz said...
Aug. 1, 2009 at 2:04 pm
It would be nice to know when this article was published but by the looks of it sometime in Jan/Feb of 09. I would be interested (and will look at other writings of the author) to see how she feels NOW, in Aug of 09 about this Unknown president. Is she happy about the Change now? Liberty for Socialism? Freedom for Taxation slavery?Is she happy about the deficit of the country? MORE people are out of work now and the numbers are increasing not decreasing as he promised. Broken Promises! Is she so... (more »)
Robby C. replied...
Nov. 1, 2009 at 9:40 am
Oh, please, your being melodramatic. And anyway, there is a very high approval rating for obama at the moment.
To respond to your Questions, she is probably very happy with her president.
And anyway, can you please try your best to make LOGICAL arguments against the Prez? What about Obama is socialist? Its a buzzword. It doesn't have anything to do with Obama. Also, Obama didnt increase taxes. This is getting rather ridiculous.
Two more things. How is obama selling us o... (more »)
morgie7<3 said...
Jul. 17, 2009 at 4:59 pm
this is a VERY well written article. Although we all have our own political opinions, I loved the way you wrote this piece! Wonderful Job!
Electricity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 12, 2009 at 10:01 pm
Wow... I agree on every term. Obama is truly amazing; he means a lot to many people in the world. I think you really captured the reader's attention. It was well thought out, and I came close to crying (believe me, i don't cry at everything) :D It was really good! I have to show this to my friend who's family is a fan of Bush (I have a hard time when I spend the night over there >.<)!! Your article is so inspiring I love it!! ^_^
Cathy said...
Jun. 12, 2009 at 5:19 am
All I have to say to Alexandria is Wow. Good job. I think you really captured the feelings of most Americans. When you said that Obama was just a face but then became a human being in your eyes. I felt the same way. To Missfuturepresident the nation started going downhill long before Obama was known. Haven't you ever heard about "trickle down economics", a theory that is ineffective but still used. Plus Bush was most to blame because he had started an avoidable war, which taxpapers had to suf... (more »)
LaShae K. said...
Jun. 5, 2009 at 1:23 am
Obama has meant a lot 2 me
Our first black president!!!
He made me cry when he was elected!!!
McoYo replied...
Oct. 11, 2009 at 4:07 pm
Why? I mean, what makes you love him so much? Just... Think about that. I am a fan of Obama my self but still, it makes sense to simply ask yourself "Why?" before you say you love him so much. Just curious :D
Skatergirl51 replied...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 2:37 pm
That is what I have been trying to figure out. Everyone says they love him so much, but they never have a reason why they love him so much.
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