Listen to this article here
The Presidential portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama have been unveiled in a ceremony at the White House hosted by President Joe Biden and his wife Jill.
“There are few people I’ve ever known with more integrity, decency, and moral courage than Barack Obama,” Biden said during the ceremony.
The tradition of a president unveiling their predecessor’s portrait in a ceremony dates back for decades, but was skipped by Trump during his presidency.
Wednesday’s ceremony was the first time Barack and Michelle were both back in the White House together since 2017.
Artist Robert McCurdy painted the portrait of Barack standing tall in a gray suit with a white background. Artist Sharon Sprung painted the former First Lady in a blue dress sitting in the White House’s Red Room.
“When people ask me what I miss most about the White House years, it is not Air Force One that I talk about, although I miss Air Force one. It’s the chance that I had to stand shoulder to shoulder with all of you, to have a chance to witness so many talented, selfless, idealistic, good people working tirelessly every day to make the world better,” Obama said, thanking his and Biden’s former staffers.
“And for eight years and even longer for some of you, I drew on your energy and your dedication and your goodness. You inspired me, and I never wanted to disappoint you. And I tried to reflect the same heart and character that you displayed every day. Even during the toughest times, it was all of you that kept me going. So it’s good to be back to have a chance to see all of you and to once again say thank you.”
President Biden recalled the bromance between himself and Barack that many remember all throughout Obama’s presidency, sharing just how much it meant to him and Jill.
“I remember how you were with me when our son was passing, and I remember the eulogy you gave on his behalf. You’ll never fully understand just how much it meant to Jill and me and the entire family,” Biden said.
“For eight years we grew to be a family for each other through our highs and our lows. Family from different backgrounds brought together by a shared value set, and all of the things that the families have done together, I imagine there may have been other relationships like this between a President and a vice president but none comes to mind.”
Barack alluded to his #SuitGate, where pundits bashed the former president for wearing a tan suit during a press conference, saying the artist McCurdy “talked me out of wearing a tan suit” to a round of applause and laughter.
Large, formal portraits of U.S. presidents and first ladies adorn walls, hallways, and rooms throughout the White House.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama shared a powerful word on why this tradition and moment was so important.
“A girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to Jacqueline Kennedy…She was never supposed to live in this house. And she definitely wasn’t supposed to serve as first lady.”