Grab the tissues and prepare to be utterly wrecked by Michelle Obama's emotional final speech as first lady.
In her final official address on Friday, the outgoing first lady struck a tone that was hopeful, passionate and decidedly pointed. Obama started by welcoming the White House crowd to the day's event, which honored the 2017 School Counselor of the Year. The annual event, which began in 2015, is part of the first lady's "Reach Higher" campaign to promote higher education, CNN reported.
Along with the educators and counselors who were there to receive honors, various celebrities were in attendance. The crowd included Ted Allen, Connie Britton, Andy Cohen and Usher, whose name was meet with "woos" from the crowd. ("Keep it together, ladies," the first lady joked.)
Obama spoke passionately about the administration's achievements in promoting higher education, citing a "record high" high school graduation rate and the "largest investment in higher education since the G.I. Bill."
Next, she spoke directly America's young people. "Know that this country belongs to you," she said. "To all of you, from every background and walk of life. If you or your parents are immigrants, know that you are part of a proud American tradition, the infusion of new cultures, talents and ideas, generation after generation, that has made us the greatest country on Earth."
"If you or your parents are immigrants, know that you are part of a proud American tradition, the infusion of new cultures, talents and ideas, generation after generation, that has made us the greatest country on Earth."
She also addressed young people of faith, urging them to "know that religious diversity is a great American tradition too ... and whether you are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, these religions are teaching our young people about justice, and compassion, and honesty. ... [P]ractice those values with pride."
While Obama never once mentioned the incoming administration of Donald Trump, the specter of his impending presidency hung over her remarks. She pointedly disparaged "anger and fear," and urged young people not to take their freedoms "for granted," and to "empower" themselves with the knowledge to defend their rights.
Obama got choked up as she ended her message, still speaking directly to America's young people. "And know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you, for the rest of my life," she said.
"I want to close today by simply saying thank you," she said.
Obama continued on through tears, "Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life and I hope I made you proud."
From the tears and applause of the crowd behind her, it's safe to say that the first lady brought the house down — one last time.