President Obama delivered a farewell address to the nation on Tuesday evening in Chicago. Amid the sweeping, roughly 50-minute speech in which Obama reflected on his eight years in office and looked to the future with both caution and hope, the president spoke candidly about those closest to him: Michelle Obama and his two daughters, Malia and Sasha. The passage devoted to his family was poignant and emotional and brought tears to the eyes of his oldest daughter Malia, viewers around the nation, and indeed himself, as he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe away a tear at one point. Obama simply saying the word “Michelle” near the end of his speech sent the audience into a frenzy, a sign of the high esteem in which Americans have come to hold the first lady.
As the crowd of thousands erupted in applause, the first lady sat in the front row smiling, perhaps trying to contain her emotions. Malia, seated next to her, was visibly moved by the gravity of the moment. The president flashed his wife a smile and she mouthed the words “I love you” back at him as the crowd continued its standing ovation.
“Michelle Lavaughn Robinson, girl of the South Side — for the past 25 years, you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend,” the president said. “You took on a job you didn’t ask for, and you made it your own with grace and with grit and with style and good humor.”
The crowd once again erupted in applause and an emotional President Obama took out a handkerchief, paused to catch a tear and then continued as the cheering subsided.
“You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody.” He concluded saying, “You have made me proud, and you have made the country proud.” Watch a clip of the powerful moment below.
Speaking to his daughters Malia and Sasha (who was absent because she was home studying for a test), the president said, “You are smart and you are beautiful. But more importantly, you are kind and you are thoughtful and you are full of passion.”
Following the speech, the first lady posted an old black-and-white family photo from around the time they entered the White House on Twitter. “So proud of @POTUS and all that we’ve accomplished together. An incredible journey filled with remarkable people. I love you Barack. -mo,” the accompanying message read.
— First Lady- Archived (@FLOTUS44) January 11, 2017