Friday, May 27, 2016

Barack Obama at Hiroshima

I woke up this morning at my normal time to come to work and turned on WAMC a little before 5am, when the BBC Witness segment is usually airing, but I heard Barack Obama in the middle of his remarks at Hiroshima, as the first sitting President to visit the site of the first atomic bombing. As I listened, I couldn't help thinking once again how much we will miss him -- how much the world will miss him -- when his successor takes her (or, shudder, his) seat in the Oval Office next January.

My own nation’s story began with simple words: All men are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Realizing that ideal has never been easy, even within our own borders, even among our own citizens. But staying true to that story is worth the effort. It is an ideal to be strived for, an ideal that extends across continents and across oceans. The irreducible worth of every person, the insistence that every life is precious, the radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family — that is the story that we all must tell.
That is why we come to Hiroshima. So that we might think of people we love. The first smile from our children in the morning. The gentle touch from a spouse over the kitchen table. The comforting embrace of a parent. We can think of those things and know that those same precious moments took place here, 71 years ago.
Those who died, they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life and not eliminating it. When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders, reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done.
The world was forever changed here, but today the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.
--Barack Obama, Hiroshima, 27 May 2016

Maybe I shouldn't speak for the whole world, but I will miss him. I'm 60 years old and he is, without question, the best president of my lifetime.

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