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The President's Weekly Address

January 07, 2017

Since the days of George Washington, Presidents have delivered some form of final message while in office, a Farewell Address to the American people. On Tuesday night, in Chicago, I'll deliver mine. I chose Chicago not only because it's my hometown, where I met my wife and we started a family, but also because it's really where my career in public service began.

The running thread through my career has been the notion that when ordinary people get involved and get engaged and come together in collective effort, things change for the better. That's the belief at the heart of this precious American experiment in self-government. It's what gives work and purpose to each new generation.

It's easy to lose sight of that truth in the day-to-day back and forth of Washington or our minute-to-minute news cycles. But remember that America is a story told over a longer time horizon, in fits and starts, punctuated at times by hardship, but ultimately written by generations of citizens who've somehow worked together, without fanfare, to form a more perfect Union.

Over the past 8 years, we've added our own new chapter to that story. Together, we've turned an economy that was shrinking and losing jobs into one that's growing and creating jobs, with poverty falling, incomes rising, and wages that have jumped faster over the past few years than at any time in the past four decades.

Together, we've achieved what eluded politicians of both parties for a century: We've moved 20 million more Americans from uninsured to insured, ending the days of discrimination against up to half of Americans who have a preexisting condition, and secured new rights and protections for everybody with health insurance.

Together, we've brought home most of our brave troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, took bin Laden and thousands of other terrorists off the battlefield for good. We've opened a new chapter with the people of Cuba, shut down Iran's nuclear weapons program without firing a single shot, and brought the world together around a climate agreement that could save this planet for future generations.

By these measures and many more, we have made America a better, stronger place for the generation that follows ours. We've run our leg in a long journey of progress, knowing that our work is and will always be unfinished. And that's the imperative of citizenship: the idea that with hard work, people who love their country can change it. That will be the focus of my Farewell to you this Tuesday, and I hope you'll tune in.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

NOTE: The address was recorded at approximately 3:20 p.m. on January 5 in the Roosevelt Room at the White House for broadcast on January 7. The transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on January 6, but was embargoed for release until 6 a.m. on January 7. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of this address.

Barack Obama, The President's Weekly Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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