By Craig Hardegree | 

America’s darkest hour since World War II had descended upon her people at the end of 2008, the culmination of 12 years of unfettered and full implementation of conservative economic policies. During Bush’s last year in office, almost 3 million jobs were lost; the stock market lost more points in one day in September 2008 than in any other day in its history; $12.8 trillion of the personal wealth of Americans evaporated into thin air; home prices plummeted overnight, completely erasing the equity in the most significant asset of many Americans; personal bankruptcy filings reached record highs; credit markets dried up; gas prices were at a punishing $4.50 a gallon.

And the worst terrorist attack in our history, following the most egregious intelligence failure in our history, had hit on our own soil during Bush’s first year in office, killing 3,000 Americans, a toll diminished only by the 5,000 Americans killed in the worst lapse in judgment in our history when Bush launched his poorly-planned and misguided invasion into a country that had committed no act of war against the United States.

And our foreign policy lay in shambles. The world despised us, holding us responsible for breaking the Middle East, creating unrest and upheaval at every turn.

But the darkest hour is just before dawn.

And dawn magnificently broke over America when Barack Obama became president.

Hope was on the way.

It took six years — half as long as it took FDR to fix the economy after Republicans broke it with the Great Depression — but with uncommon wisdom and unparalleled brilliance, he returned America’s economy to a state of greatness. Sure, there’s room for improvement; there always is. But considering where we were and where we were headed and how he was undermined and sabotaged by conservatives, President Obama’s rescue and recovery of the economy was nothing less than spectacular.

And he restored America’s respect on the world stage.

And with his soaring rhetoric and lofty ideals and impeccable morals and unassailable integrity, he inspired and motivated us to summon our better angels; to see the world through the eyes of others; to lead with our hearts, not with our self-interests; to accept others as they are, not as we think they should be; to treat others equally regardless of gender, or skin color, or orientation of attraction, or gender identity, or country of origin; to love others as we love ourselves.

And in all of that, he made America great again.

That first speech of his 2008 campaign gave me goosebumps; it brought a flood of tears to my eyes; it put a warm feeling in my heart. His words resonated deep within my soul. I knew I was witnessing greatness.

And tonight…

“America has changed over the years.  But these values my grandparents taught me – they haven’t gone anywhere.  They’re as strong as ever; still cherished by people of every party, every race, and every faith.  They live on in each of us.  What makes us American, what makes us patriots, is what’s in here.  That’s what matters.  That’s why we can take the food and music and holidays and styles of other countries, and blend it into something uniquely our own.  That’s why we can attract strivers and entrepreneurs from around the globe to build new factories and create new industries here.  That’s why our military can look the way it does, every shade of humanity, forged into common service.  That’s why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.


That’s America.  Those bonds of affection; that common creed.  We don’t fear the future; we shape it, embrace it, as one people, stronger together than we are on our own.”


~ President Barack Obama, Democratic National Convention, July 27, 2016

If you can listen to him and not be affected deep down into your core, you need to check your pulse.

That’s always been his message…

That the common creed that binds us is stronger than anything that divides us;

That America is — now — the greatest country on Earth;

That hope trumps fear;

And love trumps hate.

We have not witnessed such greatness before. And may never witness it again.

I can’t even think about him no longer being president without tears streaming down my face. Part of that is because he’s been so good for our country; part of that is because I so sorely regret how many of my race — mostly those claiming to be Christian — have been so mean and acted so ugly and talked so hateful about such a perfect example of humanity.

But mostly, it’s because I’m going to miss him.


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