Barack Obama will give the 35th Farewell Address this evening in Chicago, where his career began.
All Presidents, except the eight Presidents who died in office, have given farewell addresses, although Richard Nixon’s final speech was awkward, and not really a Farewell Address.
Grover Cleveland had the chance to do it twice due to two nonconsecutive terms of office.
Most Farewell Addresses have been unmemorable, and one has to wonder what Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy might have said had they lived to retire from the Presidency.
But three Farewell Addresses in particular stand out.
George Washington (speaking out against political parties, and support of avoiding foreign entanglements).
Dwight D. Eisenhower (warning against the Military Industrial Complex dominating).
Jimmy Carter (speaking of the need to deal with the energy crisis, warning of the dangers of nuclear proliferation, and calling for continued pursuit of human rights around the world).
No one would ever say that Washington, Eisenhower, and Carter were great public speakers, but they all spoke words that have reverberated ever since.
Expect tonight that Barack Obama, who is a great public speaker, and has uttered many great speeches, will give a Farewell Address memorable for the ages, as he moves toward being part of history in ten days!