Michelle Obama was raised on the South Side of Chicago and met Barack Obama while they worked at a Chicago law firm. They were married in 1992, and in 2007 they began what she calls their "improbably journey" to the White House.
She gave this address at the Democratic National Convention on August 25, 2008, the first night of the meeting in Denver. She introduced her husband to the world, and in turn, thrust herself on the world's stage as well. This is the complete text of her remarks that night. On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States and Michelle Obama learned she would become the nation's First Lady.
As you might imagine, for Barack, running for President is nothing compared to that first game of basketball with my brother Craig.
I can't tell you how much it means to have Craig and my mom here tonight. Like Craig, I can feel my dad looking down on us, just as I've felt his presence in every grace-filled moment of my life.
At six-foot-six, I've often felt like Craig was looking down on me too... literally. But the truth is, both when we were kids and today, he wasn't looking down on me - he was watching over me.
And he's been there for me every step of the way since that clear February day 19 months ago, when - with little more than our faith in each other and a hunger for change - we joined my husband, Barack Obama, on the improbable journey that's brought us to this moment.
But each of us also comes here tonight by way of our own improbable journey.
I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector and my lifelong friend.
I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.
I come here as a Mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world - they're the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. Their future - and all our children's future - is my stake in this election.
And I come here as a daughter - raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker, and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother's love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.
My Dad was our rock. Although he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in his early thirties, he was our provider, our champion, our hero. As he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk, it took him longer to get dressed in the morning. But if he was in pain, he never let on. He never stopped smiling and laughing - even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my Mom a kiss. He just woke up a little earlier, and worked a little harder.
He and my mom poured everything they had into me and Craig. It was the greatest gift a child can receive: never doubting for a single minute that you're loved, and cherished, and have a place in this world. And thanks to their faith and hard work, we both were able to go on to college. So I know firsthand from their lives - and mine - that the American Dream endures.
And you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name, even though he'd grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine. He was raised by grandparents who were working class folks just like my parents, and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. Like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities they never had themselves. And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them.
And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children - and all children in this nation - to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
And as our friendship grew, and I learned more about Barack, he introduced me to the work he'd done when he first moved to Chicago after college. Instead of heading to Wall Street, Barack had gone to work in neighborhoods devastated when steel plants shut down, and jobs dried up. And he'd been invited back to speak to people from those neighborhoods about how to rebuild their community.
The people gathered together that day were ordinary folks doing the best they could to build a good life. They were parents living paycheck to paycheck; grandparents trying to get by on a fixed income; men frustrated that they couldn't support their families after their jobs disappeared. Those folks weren't asking for a handout or a shortcut. They were ready to work - they wanted to contribute. They believed - like you and I believe - that America should be a place where you can make it if you try.
Barack stood up that day, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about "The world as it is" and "The world as it should be." And he said that all too often, we accept the distance between the two, and settle for the world as it is - even when it doesn't reflect our values and aspirations. But he reminded us that we know what our world should look like. We know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves - to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn't that the great American story?
It's the story of men and women gathered in churches and union halls, in town squares and high school gyms - people who stood up and marched and risked everything they had - refusing to settle, determined to mold our future into the shape of our ideals.
It is because of their will and determination that this week, we celebrate two anniversaries: