Barack Hussein Obama II,
44th President of the United
States of America
Paternal 23rd Cousin, 1x removed
My latest family discovery came as a surprise to me as I had no idea that I would find yet another US President in my family tree, let alone with whom I was very familiar and who became the first African-American President.
My relationship to President Obama is, once again, on my paternal side. President Obama's relationship to me is through his maternal side and our intersecting relative is, also once again, my 22nd Great-Grandfather, King Edward I (Longshanks). Edward I was Barack's 23rd Great-Grandfather.
The one thing that I can say about my 23rd Great-Grandfather is that he is responsible for a LOT of great people throughout history (yours truly excluded...at least for now!).
Barack Obama was born on August 4th, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His mother's family line in the US dates back as far as my own (Pilgrim's) and his European history, from what I can tell, would also include several Royal houses as well. In fact, President Obama is also a cousin to Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Princes William and Harry. I point this out as I recall watching with great admiration how well the then President and First Lady interacted with the Royal family, in particular Queen Elizabeth and Princes William and Harry. They seemed to have a real connection and I felt a great deal of admiration for how well the Obama's handled their first meeting with the Royals, something which I am sure would leave me a bumbling idiot. As time went on and the Obama's and Windsors met several more times, it was clear that they all got along very well and, at least to this casual observer, I believe that they managed not only a political connection, but have struck a mutual friendship.
Like most people, I had never heard of Barack Obama until he was nominated as the Presidential candidate for the Democrats in 2008. However, when I heard Barack speak for the first time, I realized that he was an accomplished orator. I was clearly not alone in my thinking as, throughout his two terms in office, President Obama was always the epitome of what a President should be. He had a firm yet calming tone when he spoke about serious issues, and he also had a friendly tone when he spoke about lighter matters. No matter what your political views may be, there is no denying that this man is an exceptional public speaker.
Not only was Barack Obama the first African-American to hold the office of President, but he was also the first African-American to head "The Harvard Law Review" which he did after enrolling at Harvard Law school in 1988. After graduating, Obama became a civil rights attorney and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago.
From 1997 - 2004, Barack represented the 13th district in the Illinois Senate. In 2004 Barack won the Senate primary in March, and in July of that year, he gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.
In 2008, Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States, and his wife, Michelle, became First Lady. Another interesting point, the outgoing President, George Walker Bush, is another cousin of mine as well as of Barack Obama (through President Bush's mother, Barbara). I wonder if either of them knew this at the time, or even now?
Not being an American citizen, my interest with US politics may seem a bit strange. However, Canada and the US are closely tied to one another, not only through shared history, but in culture and economies. When the US sneezes, Canada catches a cold. We are that close as nations, despite some very obvious cultural differences.
When President Obama enacted the Affordable Health Care Act, I was impressed. Having lived for a period of time in the US, and having relatives and friends that still live there, I know how expensive US medical care can be. President Obama's initiative, while not perfect, was a huge step in the right direction toward looking after the medical needs of all Americans.
Over his 8-year Presidency, Obama made numerous strides toward improving human rights in the US which were long overdue. His administration also had to deal with the on-going terrorist situation and managed to eliminate a number of high profile terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, the despicable figure behind the 911 attacks. When bin Laden was eliminated, in true Presidential form, there was no great bragging about the act; President Obama announced that the US had removed the threat and that was it. I'm sure that if the same thing happened today with the current administration, the situation would be handled very differently.
Although I may not have always agreed with everything that President Obama's administration did, that still does not diminish my admiration for how he acted as a statesman. The relationships that the President and First Lady formed around the globe helped build bridges, not walls.
Although I only know President Obama as a public figure, and I have never met him, I still feel a great deal of admiration for what he has done with his life and for his country. I am proud to include him in my ever-growing family tree.