Monday, April 8, 2013

Barack Obama: The "Fired Up" Speech

By Roxie Farina

When I hear the word speech, the first thing that comes to mind is a presidential speech. Throughout my adult life, there has only been one presidential speech that I will forever remember, and that is Barack Obama’s “Fired Up! Ready to Go!” speech.

When I first discovered this speech, it was around the time of his election to his second term as President of the United States. Obama made the speech in the city of Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, November 5, 2012. He started out by giving some background information on how he ended up in South Carolina. He was campaigning there when he was introduced to the state representative. Obama began asking her for her endorsement, and she agreed, but under one circumstance – “I will give you my endorsement if you come to my hometown of Greenwood, South Carolina.” Obama agreed to visit her hometown and that is where his speech begins.

“We had been campaigning non-stop, traveling all through towns and having town hall meetings and shaking hands,” says Obama. They had just arrived around 1 o’clock in the morning in South Carolina, and he was exhausted. Just as he was about to call it a night, one of his staff members informed him that they had to be up and on the road by 6:30 a.m. After Obama says this, the crowd and he had a nice laugh, and he states that after all “I did make this promise to go to Greenwood, and its several hours away.”

Obama also explains to the people of Iowa that “he tries to keep his promises,” so a few hours later he woke up, even though he felt terrible, and headed to Greenwood, South Carolina. It was pouring rain from the moment he woke up, and as they were walking out to the car, his umbrella blows open and he gets soaked. As if being soaked for a long car ride wasn’t bad enough, he opens the paper and discovers a bad story about himself in the New York Times. Back then he admits that he was much more sensitive to bad stories, and the crowd laughs at Obama’s comment and he continues on by saying, “I’ve become more accustomed to these now.”

As they continue on their road trip, they realize that Greenwood is several hours away from everyplace else. “And so we drive, and we drive, and we drive, and we drive until we finally arrive in Greenwood.” They pull up to a small field house, and he walks in, and begins to look around. The state representative agreed to organize a meeting for Obama, but when he walks in he sees only 20 people, who are also wet and not so happy to see him. “But I’m running for President, so I do what I’m supposed to do – and I’m shaking hands and greeting people,” says Obama.

Suddenly he hears this voice from behind him yell: “Fired Up!” The audience replies, “Ready to go!” The President is very startled by this and he is confused as to what is going on. Everyone in this small room is acting as if this behavior is normal and continue to repeat “Ready to go!” after the city councilwoman shouts: “Fired up!” This lady was very famous throughout the area of Greenwood. “She goes to football games and when she goes to rallies and she goes to community events, she does this chant of hers. And for the next few minutes she keeps on saying “Fired up!” and the audience would respond “Ready to go!”

After hearing this chant carry on for a few minutes, Obama tells the Iowa crowd “that he started to feel fired up,” and the crowd laughs. “He feels like he’s ready to go, so he started to join in on the chant, along with his staff, and somehow they all begin to feel pretty good.” After the chant, they discuss the lives of people who attended the meeting, their life problems and also their hopes for their kids and their grandkids. Then they wrap up the meeting and head back to their hotel, and even though it is still raining, “it doesn’t seem so bad, and for the rest of the day even after we left Greenwood, even though we still weren’t getting any big crowds anyplace, even though people still couldn’t pronounce my name, I felt good,” said Obama.

Throughout the rest of his campaign Obama would ask his staff, “Are you fired up?” and they would respond, “Ready to go!” At this moment in his speech, the crowd of Iowa began to applaud and praise Obama, and to me this moment in his speech is when the Iowa citizens admire Obama for all his hard work and dedication.

Towards the end of Obama’s speech, he tells the crowd that he invited Edith Childs, the lady from Greenwood, South Carolina, to one of his last campaigns to do this chant. Edith was extremely honored that he offered to fly her up from South Carolina, but she responded by saying, “I’d love to see you, but I think we can still win North Carolina, so I’m taking a crew to knock on doors on Election Day – I don’t have time just to be talking about it. I’ve got to knock on some doors.” After this the audience applauded, but Obama continues to tell them what Edith says, “I’m still fired up, but I’ve got work to do.”

This shows you what one voice can accomplish. “One voice can change a room. And if it can change a room, it can change a city. And if it can change a city, it can change a state. And if it can change a state, it can change a nation. And if it can change a nation, it can change the world,” says Obama, and the audience roars with excitement and applause.

Before ending this speech, Obama tells the crowd in Iowa, “in 2008 your voice changes the world, and Edith asked me to ask you: “Are you fired up?” The audience replies, “Ready to go!” and this chant continues on for about a minute and Obama concludes his speech by thanking the people of Iowa and reminding them that “the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.”

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