As I observed President Barack Obama’s September 1 Oval Office speech regarding the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, I noticed several subtle, yet powerful symbols strategically placed throughout the viewing area. First and foremost is the centerpiece, the President himself, situated at an empty desk with hands firmly intertwined. His overall stature signifies confidence and pride in the landmark decision to allow the Iraqi citizens to take command of their own domestic issues within their war-torn country. The empty desk further symbolizes his firm resolve by demonstrating that the “table has been cleared”, so to speak, and we, as American citizens, are prepared to start anew.
Behind the President are several photographs of him and his family, representing the peacefulness that once was and will be, and two flags flanking an unconcealed window. The flag on the viewer’s left, the American flag, denotes that the United States’ population as a whole supports this long-awaited resolution, as well as President Obama himself. The flag to the viewer’s right, which sports an eagle clutching a bundle of arrows and olive branches, has been tactfully positioned with the latter raised high above the former, further exemplifying a (hopefully) more peaceful future for the United States and the Middle East.
Finally, the window, unobstructed by the curtains, embodies the President’s open mind and positive attitude towards improving relations with the Middle East.
— Nikki Edmiston