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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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...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 8:27 pm
 Ok well yeah thats chill, but really, what policies of his do you ACTUALLY like and that you genuinely are knowledgeable about? Set his race aside, l think he's turned out to be insanely disappointing... 
Skatergirl51 replied...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 9:51 pm
i also think he is a big dissapointment. I didn't like him very much but I though atleast maybe the country would have some new exciting fresh ideas....He only talks about how bad Bush was, but changes hardly anything! he has not done anything for the better!
McoYo replied...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 10:34 pm
Ahh! I totally agree! He's screwed up the airlines, he's hella increased the taxes, homeboy has not kept a SINGLE promise he said he would. And it makes me really sad because l really wanted him to change the country! :( 
MissFuturePresident said...
May 25, 2009 at 8:32 pm
This is what Obama means to me:
My children and grandchildren in crushing debt

The freedom many gave their lives for destroyed by socialism.

The consitution ignored, or, ultimately, destroyed...do you think our forefathers created "a new nation,conceived in liberty" for this!!
Dawanna M. replied...
Jan. 25, 2010 at 8:14 pm
CAN you say wack!
goddess_of_the_moon_123 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm

What Obama means to me:

Health care for that disabled kid down the street

Democracy for that little girl in Iraq-- her OWN democracy

The Constitution upheld, for me, for my kids one day, for their kids-- because there is no way to destroy it, not in our political system

Respect for America once again

A healthier world for my little cousin 

I can understand that you are entitled to your opinion, but try to understand that most of the... (more »)

oodles12 said...
May 19, 2009 at 2:32 pm
All i can say is..he won and he is WAY better than George Bush
iceman04606 replied...
Jan. 28, 2010 at 8:05 am
Give me an example as to why he is better.
jamaicanprincess replied...
Apr. 4, 2010 at 9:11 am

well let's see

he didnt stay in the white house and accumulate debt for 8 years and put us in a pointless war...

my grandmother and aunt will finally get health care

yup better than bust to me :)

MimiRocks096 said...
May 1, 2009 at 12:33 am
ii agree with you obama is eveything mcCain is NOTHING anymore and was nothing he is an old man
conservative71196 replied...
Nov. 1, 2009 at 8:36 pm
So what if McCain is older than Obama?
It is very sad that people judge people on their age. If you would be willing to vote for Obama because he is younger than McCain, then what has this country come to?
I am very disappointed.
Dawanna M. replied...
Jan. 25, 2010 at 8:12 pm
Wow its very sad people judge people on age, please. Its very SAD That people judge people on there SKIN.. Age thats nothing!
HOPEMVP said...
Apr. 30, 2009 at 5:36 pm
I personally dreaded the day Obama would be sworn into office. Although he presented at "winning capaign" I did not like the fact that some of his comments, promises, and debates were NOT REAL. Some news reporter said "everything he says he profounds in like (Shakespeare). Which I think insults the playwrite in many ways. Obama was basically in my opinion was NOT the best for the job.
elfman said...
Apr. 29, 2009 at 2:55 pm
i fully disagree because obama was way over rated and was not as good a choise as mcain =o
HOPEMVP said...
Apr. 27, 2009 at 4:54 pm
LOVED THE COMPOSITION! the way its written
SciFi_Writer said...
Apr. 23, 2009 at 1:08 am
Great job keeping with the theme throughout the composition, keep writing opinion papers you're good at it :)

But I'm going to have to agree with Scooby. it's great that we have our first black president, but that is no ground upon which to choose the leader of our nation. It scares me that empty promises of change and the color of one's skin can get someone elected... People throw the word change around but do they actually know what he's changing?
BrokenPieces said...
Mar. 16, 2009 at 3:01 pm
I was so glad that he had won, maybe we can actually get some real changes, but you never know.
scooby said...
Mar. 16, 2009 at 12:10 am
Excellent composition! Keep writing. =)

I am only seventeen. When I grow up, I do not want to face American policies that have been influenced by his socialist regime. I am not a "radical libertarian," but "more govornment" means "more encrochment" on our dwindling American freedoms. The freedoms that our founding fathers worked so hard to establish! Praise the Lord that America has elected its first black president, but we really need to scrutinize where his polici... (more »)
guineapig324 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 9, 2010 at 1:52 pm
I completely agree with you! I am only 15 but when I grow up, I don't want to have to pay a large percentage of my income in taxes to fix the huge national debt our government has accumulated. Reckless government spending is only hurting the economy. Still, I thought this article was very well-written and would encourage the author to keep writing!
chowder16 said...
Mar. 4, 2009 at 11:29 pm
I wasn't an Obama fan and it was probably because my parents dislike him 99.9%, but as long as he keeps his promises he may turn out to be an ok president
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