Have you ever felt overjoyed to the point you didn’t know how to feel anymore? Have you ever felt all of your dreams come true in one night, but you still have yet to accomplish half the goals you set for yourself?
That was me Tuesday night, when I got to witness President Barack Obama’s last State of the Union speech.
It was an experience I won’t forget. It will go down in my history book as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Walking into the House Press Gallery, I wasn’t sure what to expect. There had to be about a hundred people in the room, but it was surprisingly quiet. It shocked me. I’ve never been inside a quiet newsroom with that many people before.
We waited around for a while until it was show time.
I have to admit, I was tempted to pull out my phone and take pictures during the speech, especially being a photographer and having the natural habit of taking pictures of everything. But it was strictly against the rules. I had to fight the urge.
The president was greeted with applause and a standing ovation.
“I will keep pushing on the progress that needs to be done,” Obama said. “I want to focus on our future.”
He focused four points he believes the country and the next president have to answer for:
“One, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy? Two, how do we make technology work for us and not against us? Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman? And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?”
The crowd roared after he addressed these points, and I’m pretty sure I heard a few amens.
Although I couldn’t see Obama because I was standing in the area reserved for reporters above and behind him, I couldn’t help but stare at the first lady who was in a seat off to my left. It seemed she applauded and stood up for everything her husband said with a smile on her face.
The crowd really went wild after he said, “We have to make college affordable for every American.”
I was live tweeting throughout the speech, and saw a number of memes loading on my news feed – like this one inserted in a video in place of someone who told a joke.
— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) January 13, 2016
I also saw numerous debates on Twitter about Obama’s last State of the Union, and of course personal opinions as well, some praising him and some wishing he was never president.
Have so much love and respect for @BarackObama
— Morgan Peterson (@mopeeeezy) January 13, 2016
Can't wait until Obama's arrogant, black self is out of office. He is one of the worst president's in history.
— Crystal Wright (@GOPBlackChick) January 13, 2016
Obama said the divide in the country’s political system needs to be fixed.
I could clearly see who in the audience of Senators and House members agreed with the president and who did not — none were shy about showing their feelings.
“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency, that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” Obama said. “The future we want — opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids — all that is within our reach. But it will only happen if we work together,” Obama said.
After his speech, my phone blew up with pictures from my family pointing me out among the crowd on TV — although you could barely see my face at all. I was honored, to say the least, to be able to witness such a great event, even though I’m only a senior in college.
Reach reporter Erica Y. King at [email protected] or 202-408-1492. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.