By Brian Klose
Barack Obama has been my president for as long as I can remember. Sure, technically, at 22 years old, I’ve also lived through part of the Bill Clinton adminstration and all of the Geogre W. Bush administration, growing up during the height of 21st century patriotism and struggle for homeland security. While the Bush adminstration did have a serious impact on the America I grew up in, I came of age during the Obama administration as a person and an American citizen.
The 2008 presidential election was the first general election I experienced the direct impact on the country around me. I vividly remember, as an eighth grader at the time, hearing a slew of opinions from my underaged peers about the direction of the country under Obama. While us twelve and thirteen year olds had little to no influence over the outcome of the election, it was the first time I had any personal interest in an election of any kind.
The timeline of the Obama adminstration moved along perfectly with my growth as a person, if only becasue I re- member so much happening as a result of his tenure. Dur- ing his first inauguration in January 2009, my small Catholic private school, gathered in our cramped library and watched his historic speech in silence, an implication of how my school would feel about his presidency for as long as I’d be there.
During my sophomore year of high school, I had the amazing opportunity to watch and meet President Obama in person at a health care advocacy conference in Washington, DC. My seat was three rows back from the microphone, and I have never been so starstruck as the moment he entered the room and began his speech.
Admittedly, I don’t remember much from his speech except his mythical charisma and infectious charm. After his speech, I had the even more amazing opportunity to shake his hand and introduce myself. The interaction was brief, I’ll admit, but I doubt I will ever again be in the position to shake hands with the most powerful person in the country. And thank goodness it was President Obama.
Unlike many of my college peers, I was able to vote for Obama in the presidential election of 2012. As my first experience with the electoral process, I owed it to myself to become as invested as I could in that election, paying attention to what was at stake thoughout my college years during Obama’s second term.
Now, as America is on the verge of inaugurating President-elect Donald Trump, I can’t help but be thankful that a president as cool and charming and culturally active and inspiring as Obama has been there with me as I’ve taken so many crucial steps in my life. Come May 2017, I’m heading into a brave new world with an unprecedented amount of uncertainty. With Trump in office, I’ll certainly reminisce on the times President Obama showed America signs of hope and greatness. So thanks, Obama. I’m really going to miss you.