President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush came together at the National Mall on Saturday for the dedication for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Bush signed the funding for the first national museum dedicated to African-American history and culture into law in 2003. Thirteen years later, the museum is ready to open its doors under the tutelage of the United States' first African-American president. The historic moment brought two presidents from different sides of the political aisle together in a bipartisan effort to honor the often overlooked history of the country's African-American citizens — but it also brought us new #FriendshipGoals when first lady Michelle Obama gave Bush a warm embrace at the dedication. There's a lot of ugly stuff in the news lately, but the photos of Michelle Obama and President Bush hugging are really the only thing you need to convince you that it's not all bad out there.
After the photos of the two hugging went viral, CNN pointed out that the unlikely friendship between the first lady and former president has been evolving over the past eight years. "The two can often be found sitting next to each other, sharing a laugh, or lending a hand to hold," CNN noted, remarking that the friendly hug shared between the two on Saturday was "no exception." Their camaraderie in fact dates back to 2008, when Bush took time to share friendly conversation with the Obamas' young daughters at their father's inauguration.
The fondness between the pair has seemed to grow over the years and culminated in the hug seen around the world. It often feels like our two party political system is a divided and that Republicans and Democrats can no longer cross over, however, this small moment shows that two people with opposing ideals and opinions can be friendly. The internet obviously went nuts over the glimmer of bipartisan hope that the hug represents:
The dedication for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African-American History and Culture was filled with many heartwarming moments. The two presidents were joined on stage by a very special guest: The daughter of a slave born in Mississippi, 99-year-old Ruth Bonner, was present at the ceremony with several generations of her family. Obama personally welcomed the family in his speech, noting the family's incredible journey. Bonner rang a bell taken from the First Baptist Church in Virginia to officially open the historic new museum.
Vice President Joe Biden was also present at the dedication. Pete Souza, the chief official white photographer, captured Biden kneeling down on the ground, holding Bonner's hand as the two smiled widely at each other while they spoke after the ceremony. President Obama was even spotted lending a hand to his predecessor when Bush had some trouble taking a selfie with the Bonner family. He definitely learned the ropes from Sasha and Malia.
The scene after the dedication was one of friendship and camaraderie. The presidents, first ladies, and their guests all seemed genuinely happy and proud of the museum's opening — it was a project 13 years in the making, after all.
So if you find yourself feeling a bit down about the growing divide between political parties in our country, just remember the Great Michelle Obama/George W. Bush Hug of 2016. It may not fix all our problems, but it's a nice reminder that people really can come together in meaningful ways despite their differences.