There are a few reasons why having Barack Obama in power made me feel Safe.
I remember Obama winning so well. The inauguration ceremony where he fumbled the words and they had to go again. The emotions. The power. Here was a guy making history. It felt good to know he was in the White House.
As an Irish person, he was not even my President. Why is it that it mattered so much? The President of America has to be someone outstanding. Respected. Trustworthy. Charisma? Sure. It helps. They haven’t all been this way. Yet Obama has a magic power. Why did I like him? Why did I feel safer with him on charge of The Button over so many others?
My reasons may not be all the right ones, but they are all my own and in no particular order.
- The Offaly Connection. Barack is of Irish origin and we loved it. We loved JFK for it in an almost sycophantic way. Many the beloved framed image of JFK could be found alongside one of the Pope. Obama is my time though. Obama roots are in MY country and MY county. I love this connection. This is my loved county. I am delighted that of all Presidents, he found his Kearney relatives in mine. Moneygall (ancestral village) has ridden the crest of the wave since the honour of his visit.
The Obama Plaza is now proudly standing alongside other (random in their own way) momentoes and I guess many the anecdote and recounted tale of the day the President came to Offaly will be a legacy to many. A tremendous day for the Faithful County.
2. The Soul. I loved when he would break into song.
3. Family man. There is something about those four together. I can imagine the squabbles but also the giggles. His wife adores him and admonishes him at all the normal times. Remember the inappropriate Mandela funeral selfie? Michelle Was Not Impressed. Rightly!! I love how he shows his love of her so kindly. No sexual indiscretions. No rumours even of Monroe type figures. Class all the way. Scandal free. Shouldn’t this be an obvious quality? I just think he is normal. He doesn’t cheat. He doesn’t offend. He will drink the pint of Guinness when offered-but knows when to stop.
4. Sense of humour. He always had a gag or one liner. Inoffensive. Light hearted. The crowd in Moneygall loved his banter. Nothing cruel of offensive. Just keeping everyone happy.
5.The Dublin trip. OK, I mentioned the day he went to Offaly. I was at work that day but I had a burning desire to see this guy in the flesh before he left Ireland. At the very last minute, just after work, (three thirty pm) on the day Obama went to Dublin, my boyfriend (now husband) best friend and I decided to go. Chance it. Fly up. See what we could see! Enjoy a sporadic last minute jaunt and give up the evening for the two hour drive to Dublin. Obama motivated us. People has been queuing the streets of Dublin from early. We didn’t expect go see anything. We just wanted the emotions of moment. Nowadays we all have children and this sort of trip would never happen without great planning. This is one of my last memories of being sporadic before the responsibilities of parenthood set in. We had such a fantastic trip. The excitement of our decision. The slightly too fast drive up. We parked in the jammiest spot. You know those perfect moments- we had missed the insane queues and arrived just as someone left a magnificent spot. Got to the main route. Front of the barrier. Ten minute wait and then the cars came by. OMG. I saw him clear as day in the backseat and Michelle waved in our direction. On an Obama high, we listened to the speeches, piped all over Dublin. It was amazing. Like every county had won the All-Ireland. When he said his famous ‘Yes we can!” in Irish- Is Feidir Linn- I would have fought battles for him. The day continued golden for us as we ate the best chicken wings in Dublin at Elephant and Castle in Temple Bar (see Glorious Food Moments 2: Dublin, a city of comfort food hidden behind Georgian doors. for full discussion of said wings) and had some really strange but kinda cool occurences. As we waited to eat, we saw a crowd forming outside. My husband waited inside but my friend and I headed out. There was Jedward! Turning around, the members of Westlife were passing in a car (this is a small area) and then Brian O’ Driscoll sprinted past with our recent rugby win, The Heineken Cup. Buzzing, we went back from our quadruple celebrity spotting! A great Dublin day. All because of Obama.
6.Pearl Jam. Played at the farewell ceremony. Too cool. Just listen to Yellow Ledbetter to know why.
7.Opening minds. We were opening minds. Not closing them. Not narrowing them. The way it should be.
8.Respect. No volatile outbursts. He has respect for people. It is clear as the day is long. Watching small interactions, staged or not, they have something as bouts them that shouts real. I really respect you, it says. You just get the feeling he likes people. I don’t feel patronised or disrespected by his words.
So Mr Obama. From someone who wasn’t an American citizen but a world citizen-we will be missing you.