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Michael Marley:
2009 Winner
FDNY Engine 48

Michael Marley

Winning Essay

On January 20, 2009 Barack Hussein Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States after two years of hard fought campaigning and fundraising. But how was this so? How did a nation tarnished with racism in the past come together and vote in record setting numbers for the first African American President of the United States? There is no one single answer that explains this, rather a combination of different reasons that allowed the United States to polish its tarnished image and be seen as a united nation.

The First reason I believe this happened was Barack Obama’s image portrayed to the American people. He was seen as a young, vibrant and confident man with the power to persuade people with words. He has showed that he is an excellent public speaker and has the power to make people believe what he is saying. Barack Obama’s campaign slogan was, “Change we can believe in.” It was a motto that summed up the past 8 years in America. Many Americans were tired of former President George W. Bush because of the unpopular War in Iraq and they wanted change no matter what it would be.

The Second reason was that America has changed over the past 50 years, for the first time Americans elected and African American President and the voter turnout was in record numbers. After the civil rights movement throughout the mid 1950’s to late 1960’s minorities were getting much the same rights as whites. The election of the first African American proved that America had moved past the racism and hate of the past and elected someone who they saw as a leader and an opportunity to make history.

The Third Reason I believe this happened was the need for change. The last 8 years had been tough for both America and the President, the attacks on September 11th, 2001 hit close to home for many Americans and it sparked two wars that continue to this day. President Bush promised that this will not happen again under his term and he made it his goal to catch the people responsible for this. Over 7 years later many Americans had put 9/11 behind them and seem to forget the reason why we went to war in the first place. They wanted a new leader who would get us out of these wars and restore America’s image and that is exactly how Barack Obama portrayed himself, as a savior for the United States and that is what the American people wanted to hear.

The Fourth reason Barack Obama was elected for was his immense campaign funding, recent reports show that Barack Obama had raised over $760,000,000 compared to John McCain’s $80,000,000. This was due in large part to public funding, after saying that he would not accept public donations Barack Obama went back on his words and accepted public funding which is why he skyrocketed in terms of funding over his opposition Senator McCain. His large campaign funds allowed him to go all across the country and attend rally’s and raise support for his ideals and his plans. This large amount of funding was one of the main reasons for Obama’s success in the general election.

Personally I was very interested in this election, although on the opposite end of the political spectrum from Barack Obama, I have great respect for him and his history making campaign. I watch the news frequently and was always interested when a new poll came out showing the close race between the candidates. As the general election came near and the polls were showing a tight race I would log on to Facebook and donate my status to my candidate to show my support and to let others know who and why I supported that specific candidate. After the election was over and I had heard that Barack Obama was elected President I was disappointed personally but I was happy for America, this election truly showed how America has changed over the course of its history in a positive way by electing the first African American President in the United States, an achievement that seemed impossible 50 years ago.

Barack Obama has often compared himself to Abraham Lincoln, as a leader who can bring a nation together in times of great despair. I believe Barack Obama is more like John F. Kennedy, as a young and enthusiastic person who has hope for the future.

Like Obama, Kennedy was seen as a great change for America and he was an excellent public speaker who could express his ideas clearly in his speeches. America loved Kennedy much the way they love Obama today and they both energized this country in times of crisis and they gave America hope to people who seemed to have no hope. I hope that Barack Obama will be able to live up to the hype that he has generated over the past 2 years and show the world that he is a great leader like the President’s of the past.

As I sit here today America is in crisis, our economy is in a deep recession, our banks are falling, our auto industries are failing and the moral of the American people is the lowest it has been in decades. President Obama has a lot on his plate and this will be a great challenge for both him and America. The recent $800 billion stimulus plan shows that President Obama is ready to take action and won’t just sit back and wait, but the practicality of much of the money in the bill is controversial, it is unanimously agreed that the United States needs a stimulus bill but how much and what to contain in it is debatable. The national debt rose $4 trillion during George W. Bush’s Presidency; President Obama will increase the national debt another $4 trillion in only 1 year to over $13 trillion. In addition to the economy President Obama also has to deal with health care, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and immigration. It will take many years for America’s economy to recover and in no way will President Obama be able to provide a magical fix to the economy but I am hopeful for the future.

America has shown that we have the capability to overcome many obstacles, electing the first African American president is just one of those barriers that America has surpassed. With the right will power and motivation we can make it through these tough times and I believe we need a strong and charismatic leader to get us through, I hope America has made the right choice in electing President Obama and no matter what as long as we have a strong leader we will get through these tough times and we will prosper in the future.


We would like to wish Michael Marley the best of luck moving on to East Stroudsburg University, Pennsylvania. Congratulations!

My name is Michael Marley and I am a senior at Warwick Valley High School in Warwick, NY. I am looking forward to August where I will be attending East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania where I will major in Athletic Training. I have always been big into sports and have been playing football for the last 11 years and I will also be playing college football at East Stroudsburg which is a Division 2 school. I am also currently the bench press champion in our school of 1600 people which I won in my junior year with a bench press of 340 lbs, this year I hope to break the long standing school record of 405 lbs by the end of June. My parents names are Stephen and Patricia Marley and I have 3 other siblings, Victoria who is 15, Kerrianne who is 21, and Stephen who is 24. Both my dad and more recently my brother are members of the FDNY. My dad works in Engine 48 and my brother works in Ladder 44 in the Bronx. It is my goal after college to become a New York City firefighter like my dad and my brother and it has been a goal since I was very young. We would always go to the firehouses and play on the rigs at the Christmas parties and that got me hooked, occasionally I would be allowed on the Engine to go on a run which was really cool to see how firefighters operated. I hope to continue the long tradition of firefighters in my family that started all the way back from my great grandfather in the early 1900’s. When I get on the fire department I hope to continue to play football on the FDNY Bravest football team where I will still be able to play the sport I love along with a job that I am sure to love. Over the summer I will be working as a lifeguard at Mountain Creek Water Park in Vernon, NJ which will help me with my prerequisites for my Major in college and also give me experience with helping people that will be pivotal later on in life.

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