August 8, 2012
A crowd of 1,575 roared as first lady Michelle Obama entered from the left wing onto the stage of the SNHU Athletic Center Gymnasium this past Thursday. Applause, shouts and chants of “Yes we can. Yes, yes we can!” slowly waned as Obama took the podium to speak. Settling in, an enormous American flag behind her, she cleared her throat and smiled at the audience. The stage was set and the room was all-ears.
“I want to thank you all,” said Obama. “It is hot in here, and you guys are hanging in there. Let me just say this; if anybody needs to sit down, sit down.” The crowd appreciated her candor as she continued to express her gratitude for the warm welcome before transitioning into a discussion about higher education.
Her message was simple. The United States needs a president that doesn’t just understand what it means to struggle in the process of education, but also what it means to struggle to get an education.
Providing a very familiar personal story for many students in the United States, the first lady described the challenges she and her family faced to make the payments for her education. Students and parents groaned in agreement when she mentioned the never-ending quest for grants, scholarships and loans.
Obama earned some of the loudest cheers when she said that education was everything in her family. “It was our ticket to the middle class, our pathway to the American Dream.”
She also addressed popular issues like fair taxation, affordable healthcare and immigration, saying that “when we need a President to protect our most basic rights...you can count on my husband.” Obama spoke on many of the hot-button topics that make up a large part of today’s news and political discussions as the election approaches.
After building up a powerful call-and-response with the audience members and asking them if they wanted to keep the reforms President Obama has enacted, hundreds of voices in unison began to chant, “Four more years! Four more years!”
She implored supporters to get to the voting booth and to be sure their friends do as well. With regard to the new goals set for a possible second term, and for the lives of the people she addressed, Obama concluded with, “Here in America, there is always something better out there if you’re willing to work for it.”
People outside after the speech echoed Obama’s enthusiasm for education and political involvement. One spectator commented, “I can really relate to the challenges she faced, and I agree with all of her points. I am very excited for the election.”
Others remarked on the speech itself, still wired by the delivery. “She electrified everyone in the stands, very inspiring” was overheard as the crowd made their way to the parking lot.
With just three months until the election, the first lady expressed her desire to visit politically divided states like New Hampshire and thanked all of President Obama’s supporters and those who waited in line for the event. The speech was streamed live and recorded. It may be accessed via this link.
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Timothy Woodward grew up in a small town in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in film and writing in California and an MFA in Fiction from SNHU.