The following is an excerpt from the President's speech at the 2009 staff ball. It is one that many alums have on their walls, computers or share frequently as they start new ventures and projects. This speech speaks to many alumni as it reminds us of how important it is to bring the values the President has taught us to many different sectors around the world. And that is how we 'together, can change the world.'
The Obama Alumni Association will highlight the many inspiring new organizations, public service pursuits, campaigns, companies and issues that Alumni and Progressive Allies are involved in or are starting on their own. We will also help connect Alumni at local levels so you can plan to take action in your own communities and share with Alums across the country.
So with that - our favorite quote:
"Which brings me to the third and main reason why this was not just a campaign, but it was a movement: and that’s you.
Because when I look out across this place, when I look out and I see all of you, I think, look at you, you guys are kids. And maybe it’s because so many of you are so young, or at least young at heart, that you could imagine what had not been done before. You didn’t know any better when people said I couldn’t win. You didn’t understand when folks said, “That’s not how it’s done.” When people said, “You can’t raise money over the internet, $25 at a time,” you didn’t know, so you went ahead and raised money $25 at a time. Yes we can.
When people said, “You know what, you can’t build a grassroots organization in all fifty states and have people just get on a website and decide, well, I’m gonna be Idaho for Obama and start organizing.” You’re not supposed to be able to do that. But you guys just went ahead and did it; you didn’t know any better. You said yes we can.
But here’s the thing that’s most important to me, is that you take the spirit, the culture of this campaign, and you keep applying it not just to campaigns. That sense of possibility, that you guys can do anything, that you can re-imagine the world, that you can lead not by trying to manipulate your way or push down somebody else to get your way, but instead lead through the force of your example, and your discipline, and your creativity. I just hope that you carry that with you everywhere you go.
What an enormous force you got inside yourselves. Don’t put that on the shelf and wait for the next four years. Next week, next month, next year, for the rest of your lives, cling on to that essential thing about you. What made this campaign special was you. And don’t let anybody forget that. Don’t let anybody take that away from you. Because I promise you that if everybody in this hall is willing to keep doing what you guys did over the last two years, then I am optimistic about America. I may make some mistakes, but you’ll set me right. And after I’m out of office, then you’ll set the next person right. And maybe someday you’ll be in office, and you’ll set the country right. And maybe you’ll never be in office, but you’ll make your neighborhood right, or you’ll make your job right.
I am confident in you. I have faith in you. I am grateful to you. You, together, can change the world. God bless you. Let’s get busy. Thank you."
President Barack Obama
January 21, 2009