The following was written on my personal Facebook page in the early hours of 20 January 2017 and has been modified since then.
This is going to be quite lengthy. I need to share my thoughts…been mulling it over for a while now. I should preface what I share is my own opinion (not my employers) and has NOTHING to do with politics just CIVICS.
I want to share two of my favorite POTUS #Obama 44 moments:
February 2, 2010: I was fortunate enough ask The President a question about Haiti during his visit to Nashua, NH. I wasn’t even supposed to be there that day. My friend and old neighbor Cheryl Debelis was sick and was so kind to hand me her ticket.
When I worked in editorial, I got to ask tough questions to important folks. I pissed off a senator who became a presidential nominee on my 23rd birthday and annoyed a daytime TV talk show host all in the same year.
On that day though I will say my heart was in my throat only because I could not believe The 44th President of The United States of America pointed to me (a private citizen) as I stood up and he said: “Young man over there, you have a question for me?”
I wanted to ask about student loans interest rates but it was already asked so, I asked about something else that was close to my heartstrings — Haiti.
The timing of that question could not have been more perfect. It was almost a month after a 7.0 earthquake rocked the island. I shared my story asked my question with The President.
He thanked me for my courage to help my family even called me “Babyface.”
Family, friends and co-workers still tease me to this day.
Afterward, Mark Knoller, CBS News White House Correspondent, reached out on Twitter said:”Grow a beard like me you won’t get teased again.” I did so for a brief period of time. As a matter of fact I’m sporting one now.
February 19, 2009: POTUS44’s first overseas trip was to my native land of Canada where he was welcomed by then Governor General Michaëlle Jean.
Born in Haiti, Jean came to Canada at 11-years old as a refugee. She went to school, grew up to become a journalist and later Canada’s first black female Commander-in-Chief.
I grew up watching her on TV on SRC/CBC. To know she was Haitian AND a journalist inspired me. Seeing the both of them walk down on the tarmac at the airport in Ottawa flanked by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Air Force One behind them laughing like old friends meant so much to me. There was so much symbolism in that moment on so many levels.
“In North America, anything is possible,” my mom would tell me as a child. I mean that’s why she left Haiti. For a better life and better opportunities. I wouldn’t be here if she didn’t.
So seeing these two leaders was the true epitome of this possibility and the dream. Obama, the son of an immigrant from Kenya, an African and Jean a Haitian-Canadian just like me. Two black Commanders-In-Chiefs leading North America’s most powerful nations. Historically this has never happened and was truly inspiring. I can go on but I wanted to share those two moments.
I don’t associate myself with any political sides. I have witnessed 3 transitions of power in the U.S. since 1994 as a legal permanent resident and maybe more as naturalized U.S. Citizen one day.
While I may not have agreed with all the policies made within the leadership of the Executive Branch in that time period, I respect The Office much like I respect The Crown of the Monarchy.
The burden carried by whoever sits in that chair is heavy. I could be wrong, it seems that the previous folks that have done so know this and care about the country.
While I wish the next person that takes on the role as POTUS45 well, I am deeply concerned about the future of U.S. It’s the only home I’ve really known for a majority of my life.
My life, my family, friends, and career are here. I pray that the rhetoric and emotions fueled on the campaign trail doesn’t lead us going backward in time to an era of Jim Crow or worse — authoritarianism
I pray that my colleagues continue to practice their craft of telling stories under the protection of the 1st Amendment without getting persecuted. I hope they continue to hold those making decisions accountable.
It also saddens me no matter what people views are they are quick to see someone go during a changeover and act like a Monday quarterback.
People were quick to see Bush 41, Clinton 42, Bush 43 and now Obama 44 go… when we really should take a step back and say “Hey thanks SO much for carrying that burden for US and making those hard decisions …we know it ain’t easy.”
If you get the chance, go and take a long look at all the Presidential Portraits when they enter office versus when they leave do so. Whew, a picture is worth a thousand words.
So, Thank you, Mr. President, Barack Obama for carrying the country’s burden over the last 8 years and for continuing to influence people in a positive way until the very end.