The President’s Speech

In a televised address, President Barack Obama sets his goals for the nation

Jan 29, 2014 | By Andrea Delbanco
SAUL LOEB—AFP/GETTY IMAGES

On January 28, President Barack Obama addressed the nation in his annual State of the Union speech. “It is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong,” he said. To the members of Congress and the Cabinet, Supreme Court Justices, guests in the chamber of the House of Representatives, and TV viewers, he said: “Let’s make this a year of action.”

First Lady Michelle Obama applauds special guest Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg.
WIN MCNAMEE—GETTY IAMGES
First Lady Michelle Obama applauds special guest Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg.

The U.S. Constitution requires the president to report regularly to Congress. Many presidents see the speech as an opportunity to set their goals and inspire the nation. In his 65-minute address, Obama strongly urged Democrats and Republicans to work together for the good of the nation. He vowed to move forward with or without the support of everyone in Washington. “I’m eager to work with all of you,” he said. “But America does not stand still—and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

He wants to raise the minimum wage for some federal workers, create a new way for people to save for retirement, and encourage the use of alternative fuels for the good of the environment.

Following the president’s speech, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state spoke for Republicans. “The president’s policies are making people’s lives harder,” she said. “Republicans have plans to close the gap.”

A Special Guest

In his speech, Obama spoke about bringing the war in Afghanistan to an end. “In tight-knit communities all across America, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, and give thanks for being home from a war that after 12 years is finally coming to an end,” he said.

The president honored a hero, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg, who was badly injured by a bomb while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan. The Sergeant sat with First Lady Michelle Obama, and the audience rose to their feet to applaud him when the president told his story. “Like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit,” said Obama.