A 17-year-old high school senior recently tweeted at Barack Obama, asking the former President of the United States to deliver a virtual “national commencement address” in lieu of schools’ canceled ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Like most high school/college seniors, I’m saddened by the loss of milestone events, prom & graduation. In an unprecedented time, it would give us great comfort to hear your voice,” Lincoln Debenham tweeted. “We ask you to consider giving a national commencement speech to the class of 2020.”
According to Debenham, his tweet had 176,000 likes and nearly 40,000 retweets as of Thursday morning. A spokeswoman for Obama said that they were aware of the tweets and that they were “very flattered.” However, she declined to comment any further, as CNN reported.
Debenham shared with CNN that he proposed the idea to Obama after hearing that he had endorsed his former vice president, Joe Biden, on Tuesday for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Debenham enlisted his older brother Eli to assist him with coming up with a tweet that the brothers felt conveyed the perfect message to ask Obama to participate in a virtual graduation.
“We all at some point felt bad about feeling bad about missing graduation,” Debenham said. “People are dying, people are getting really sick, losing their jobs. I think a lot of us realized it’s OK to feel bad as long as you don’t minimize the struggles of others.”
The 17-year-old then explained that Obama is an icon to the graduating class of 2020 as well as his generation. “They got to vote for Barack Obama in mock elections when they were little kids and they got to watch Barack Obama become the first black president and get sworn in while they were in school,” Debenham said. “I remember watching that in the classroom and feeling kind of amazed at such a young age and feel like I was a part of history.”
Barack Obama gave a myriad of commencement speeches while he was president. However, he hasn’t given any graduation addresses since leaving office.
“It’s about someone who speaks for my generation,” Debenham tweeted, as a reply to a tweeter who commented regarding a potential reaction from President Donald Trump. “That’s what this is about. Hearing that voice of hope again.”