The most memorable lines from President Obama's 8 years in office

Before we hand over the reins to Donald Trump and his unique way of speaking (and tweeting), let's reflect on some of the eloquence President Barack Obama shared with us through his time in office.

Obama's team of speechwriters picked out the big moments in the past eight years of his presidential speeches Tuesday, covering everything from his response to the Sandy Hook school massacre, the SCOTUS decision on marriage equality and the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The thoughts and careful turns of phrase he spoke didn't just write themselves. And while a lot was in the delivery, the people behind the scenes had a lot to do with what we ended up hearing online, on the TV or radio.

Drawn largely from the White House speechwriters' favorites, here are are some of the best and memorable lines.

President Obama's most memorable quotes
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President Obama's most memorable quotes

“On Monday morning, the sun rose over Boston.”

After the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, Obama spoke at an interfaith service for victims' family members and other survivors. Speechwriter Terence Szuplat said that in the opening lines, the president set the scenes of how quickly a joyous day turned dark.

"And then, in an instant, the day’s beauty was shattered. A celebration became a tragedy," the president said in the remarks at the Cathedral of The Holy Cross in Boston.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America/Corbis via Getty Images)

“It was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the true meaning of America.”

Cody Keenan highlighted the historic significance of America's first black president speaking at the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches.

This line was added in by the president himself as the team worked on edits before the anniversary event in Alabama.

He went on to say in the speech, "Because the single most powerful word in our democracy is the word 'We.'  We The People. We Shall Overcome. Yes We Can."

(Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

"The truth is, being an American is hard."

Speechwriter Sarada Peri picked a moment at a December 2015 naturalization ceremony at the National Archives when Obama spoke about the importance of immigrants and citizenship in building our country.

She said his speech was all about making the new citizens feel comfortable in their new home, despite increasing instances of Islamophobia during the campaign.

(Photo by Martin H. Simon-Pool/Getty Images)

"He was clowning."

After the Golden State Warriors won the NBA championships in 2015, Obama — a big Chicago Bulls fan — got to show his sillier and even cool side.

Speechwriter Zev Karlin-Neumann loved Obama's off the cuff remark and dance moves imitating player Steph Curry. 

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“On a stone where day after day, for years, men and women were torn from their spouse or their child, shackled and bound, and bought and sold, and bid like cattle; on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet — for a long time, the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as 'history' with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.”

At the dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in September, speechwriter Tyler Lechtenberg said this section of Obama's speech had been changed and edited by the president himself. Lechtenberg thought the revised version better reflected the president's personal thoughts on the atrocities of slavery, the ongoing struggle of the African-American community and how they are part of our national history and integral to making this country stronger and better. 

(Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see."

After nine African-Americans were shot dead in their church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015, Obama spoke at the eulogy service for slain Rev. Clementa Pinckney. At one point, he broke out in song, singing some lines from the hymnal "Amazing Grace."  It felt heartfelt and sincere at a time when the racist massacre felt like a low point in a divided nation.

A moment not mentioned by the speechwriters — and obviously penned some time ago — but worthy of inclusion for his delivery alone.

(Photo via REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

"Yes we can."

It seems fitting to end at the very beginning, before Obama was even in the White House. Obama's acceptance speech that night in November 2008 when he was first elected foreshadowed the type of messages he would continue to share at speaking events around the country and world as the nation's leader.

As he said that night in Chicago, "This is your victory."

(Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


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