In what the Washington Post rightly calls “a speech for the ages,” First Lady Michelle Obama indeed delivered a speech that will go down in history as one of the most memorable speeches ever delivered during a national presidential convention.
The words that resonated most with me — and words that “brought down the house” were:
That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves and I watch my daughters –- two beautiful, intelligent, black young women –- playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.
The above words were taken verbatim from the White House transcript, only leaving out the “(Applause)” entries — and there were numerous such notations.
Of course, most of our readers listened to the First Lady delivering her remarkable speech and her words can be read here.
I just would like to take the liberty and the opportunity to recall what I feel are her most memorable words, in addition to those above — (Applause) and (Laughter) included.
I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just seven and ten years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those big men with guns. (Laughter.) And I saw their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, “What have we done?” (Laughter.) See, because at that moment, I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation for who they would become, and how well we managed this experience could truly make or break them.
That is what Barack and I think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight — how we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith. (Applause.) How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. (Applause.) How we explain that when someone is cruel, or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level -– no, our motto is, when they go low, we go high. (Applause.)
And make no mistake about it, this November, when we go to the polls, that is what we’re deciding -– not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. No, this election, and every election, is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives. (Applause.) And I am here tonight because in this election, there is only one person who I trust with that responsibility, only one person who I believe is truly qualified to be President of the United States, and that is our friend, Hillary Clinton. (Applause.)
And when I think about the kind of President that I want for my girls and all our children, that’s what I want. I want someone with the proven strength to persevere. Someone who knows this job and takes it seriously. Someone who understands that the issues a President faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters. (Applause.) Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have a thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady, and measured, and well-informed. (Applause.)
I want a President with a record of public service, someone whose life’s work shows our children that we don’t chase fame and fortune for ourselves, we fight to give everyone a chance to succeed — (applause) — and we give back, even when we’re struggling ourselves, because we know that there is always someone worse off, and there but for the grace of God go I. (Applause.)
I want a President who will teach our children that everyone in this country matters –- a President who truly believes in the vision that our founders put forth all those years ago: That we are all created equal, each a beloved part of the great American story. (Applause.) And when crisis hits, we don’t turn against each other -– no, we listen to each other. We lean on each other. Because we are always stronger together. (Applause.)
So don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this, right now, is the greatest country on earth. (Applause.) And as my daughters prepare to set out into the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth, a leader who is worthy of my girls’ promise and all our kids’ promise, a leader who will be guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children.
So in this election, we cannot sit back and hope that everything works out for the best. We cannot afford to be tired, or frustrated, or cynical. No, hear me — between now and November, we need to do what we did eight years ago and four years ago: We need to knock on every door. We need to get out every vote. We need to pour every last ounce of our passion and our strength and our love for this country into electing Hillary Clinton as President of the United States of America.
Let’s get to work. Thank you all, and God bless.
Lead Photo: Courtesy White House
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.