The outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver his farewell address to Americans today, in Chicago, ten days ahead of the handover to Donald Trump, a man he has described as polar opposite.
Obama’s speech is expected to be a parting shot “to say thank you” to Americans “and to offer some thoughts on where we all go from here”.
He will be only the 10th president in American history to present a formal goodbye as such, according to Gleaves Whitney, the author of American Presidents: Farewell Addresses to the Nation, 1796-2001.
Chicago is Obama’s adopted hometown, where he met his wife, Michele and was elected an Illinois senator.
In his invitation on January 2 to Americans to attend the ceremony, Obama had written:
“In 1796, as George Washington set the precedent for a peaceful, democratic transfer of power he also set a precedent by penning a farewell address to the American people. And over the 220 years since, many American presidents have followed his lead.
“On Tuesday, January 10, I’ll go home to Chicago to say my grateful farewell to you, even if you can’t be there in person.
“I’m just beginning to write my remarks. But I’m thinking about them as a chance to say thank you for this amazing journey, to celebrate the ways you’ve changed this country for the better these past eight years and to offer some thoughts on where we all go from here.
“Since 2009, we’ve faced our fair share of challenges, and come through them stronger.
“That’s because we have never let go of a belief that has guided us ever since our founding — our conviction that, together, we can change this country for the better.
“So I hope you’ll join me one last time. Because, for me, it’s always been about you,” the outgoing two-term president said in his invitation.
The White House said the outgoing president took the country out of one of the worst economic recessions.
“President Obama inherited an economy careening toward a second Great Depression, and he acted aggressively to arrest the crisis, restart growth and job creation, rebuild our economy on a stronger long-term foundation, and expand opportunity for all Americans.
“Since 2009, the unemployment rate has been cut by more than half from its peak.
“‘Yes, we can’. President Obama spoke these three words for the first time as a candidate in January 2008 in New Hampshire.
“After eight years, this remains a guiding principal that continues to inspire Americans across the country to come together and find their own ways to move our country forward.