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37 Iconic Photos to Celebrate President Obama's Birthday

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

As president, Barack Obama ran with his dog Bo, ate Chipotle, and pretended costumes gave kids super powers. 

He held his wife’s hand, hugged his friends, and cuddled his daughters while watching TV. 

He honored civil rights advocates, helped families grieve, and gave young people, unsure about the future, advice. 

He helped orchestrate the Paris climate agreement, helped bring healthcare to millions of Americans, and advocated for the principles of Global Citizen — an end to poverty, injustice, and suffering. 

To celebrate President Obama's 56th birthday, here are 37 iconic images from his presidency.


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1) President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama join hands with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., as they lead the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches, in Selma, Ala., March 7, 2015. Malia and Sasha Obama join hands with their grandmother, Marian Robinson.

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2) Late one afternoon in October 2015, the sun illuminates President Obama as he speaks on the telephone with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

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3) President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama share a private moment in a freight elevator at an Inaugural Ball. Washington, D.C., on January 1, 2009.

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4) President Barack Obama bends over so the son of a White House staff member can pat his head during a family visit to the Oval Office May 8, 2009. The youngster wanted to see if the President's haircut felt like his own.

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5) President Barack Obama runs down the East Colonnade with family dog Bo on March 15, 2009.

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6) President Barack Obama fist-bumps custodian Lawrence Lipscomb in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building following the opening session of the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth, Dec. 3, 2009.

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7) President Obama greets US soldiers at Bagram Airfield after an all-night, unannounced flight to Afghanistan on Dec. 3, 2010. 

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8) "The skies opened up on Memorial Day outside of Chicago. When the lightning began, the Secret Service told the President that it was too dangerous to proceed. He took the stage by himself and informed the audience that his speech was canceled and that for everyone's safety, they should return to their busses. Later, he boarded a few of the busses to thank them for attending and apologized for not being able to speak," explains Official White House Photographer Pete Souza about this image taken on May 31, 2010.

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9) President Obama's wave aligns with a rainbow as he boards Air Force One at Norman Manley International Airport prior to departure from Kingston, Jamaica, on April 9, 2015.

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10) President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin during a photo line in the Blue Room of the White House prior to a reception celebrating African American History Month, Feb. 18, 2016.

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11) President Barack Obama greets children at a day-care facility adjacent to daughter Sasha's school in Bethesda, Md., following her 4th grade closing ceremony, June 9, 2011.

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12) President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with daughters Sasha and Malia, stand in former South African President Nelson Mandela's cell as they listen to former prisoner Ahmed Kathrada during their tour of Robben Island Prison on Robben Island in Cape Town, South Africa, June 30, 2013. Leslie Robinson and Marian Robinson join them.

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13) "We had just arrived aboard the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn and the President was walking into the White House. I had seen this scene several times but had never been able to quite capture it the way I wanted. Here, finally, arriving at night, I was able to frame him walking into the light of the Diplomatic Reception Room, with the added bonus of his shadow being cast from the television lights off to the left," explains Souza. This photograph was taken on March 30, 2012.

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14) President Obama pretends to be caught in Spider-Man's web as he greets the Nicholas Tamarin, 3, just outside the Oval Office on Oct. 26, 2012. Spider-Man had been trick-or-treating for an early Halloween with his father, White House aide Nate Tamarin in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

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15) President Obama's daughter Malia stops by the Oval Office one afternoon to see her dad and, while they were talking, wips something from his face on Feb. 23, 2015.

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16) President Barack Obama hugs First Lady Michelle Obama in the Red Room while Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett smiles prior to the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) reception on March 20, 2009.

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17) President Barack Obama embraces Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office after a meeting on the budget, April 8, 2011.

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18) A view of the president's chair in the Cabinet Room on Jan. 29, 2010. The plaques on the chairs of the president and the vice president are noted with the date of the inauguration; the plaques on the chairs of each Cabinet member are noted with the date of their confirmation by the Senate.

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19) President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and senior staff applaud in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, as the House passes the health care reform bill, March 21, 2010.

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20) President Barack Obama hugs Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., on the floor of the House Chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., before delivering the State of the Union address, Jan. 24, 2012.

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21) President Barack Obama gestures as he talks with Akira Cooper at the Community Children's Center, one of the nation's oldest Head Start providers, in Lawrence, Kan., Jan. 22, 2015.

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22) President Barack Obama sits on the famed Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum following an event in Dearborn, Mich., April 18, 2012.

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23) President Obama and Pope Francis walk along the Colonnade at the White House in Washington, DC on Sept. 23, 2015.

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24) President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel talk as they wait to take a group photograph during the G7 Summit in Krün, Germany.

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25) President Obama lifts Ella Rhodes, daughter of Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, as she is dressed in an elephant costume that she was wearing for a Halloween event at the White House on Oct. 30, 2015.

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26) "It was supposed to be just a simple early voting by the President at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Chicago, Illinois. When Aia Cooper, left, and her fiancé Mike Jones, far right, walked by to also cast their ballot, Jones quipped, 'Mr. President, don't touch my girlfriend.' The president replied, 'I really wasn't planning on it,' joking that Jones was 'an example of a brother just embarrassing you for no reason.' When the President finished voting, he reached over and gave Cooper a kiss on the cheek," said Souza. This photograph was taken on Oct. 20, 2014.

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27) Photographer Pete Souza captured this image as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had just accidentally dropped all of her briefing papers onto the Oval Office rug and she, the President and Vice President all reacted on Jan. 30, 2012.

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28) After returning on Marine One, President Obama walks from the helicopter to the Oval Office holding an umbrella for aides Valerie Jarrett and Anita Decker Breckenridge on May 18, 2015.

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29) President Obama speaks with salmon fishermen at Kanakanak Beach in Bristol Bay, Alaska on Sept. 2, 2015.

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30) President Barack Obama talks to kids during a stop at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland on Broadway Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio, June 14, 2012. 

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31) President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama receive visitors in the Blue Room at the White House on Jan. 21, 2009.

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32) Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, President Barack Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and others watch the overtime shootout of the Chelsea vs. Bayern Munich Champions League final, in the Laurel Cabin conference room during the G8 Summit at Camp David, Md., May 19, 2012.

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33) President Barack Obama and his daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, watch on television as First Lady Michelle Obama takes the stage to deliver her speech at the Democratic National Convention, in the Treaty Room of the White House, Sept. 4, 2012. 

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34) A portrait of President Obama during a meeting, juxtaposed with the paintings of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, busts of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln, and the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 28, 2012.

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35) President Obama hugs Vice President Joe Biden after delivering a eulogy during the funeral mass for Beau Biden at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del. on June 6, 2015.

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36) Following the mass shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C., that claimed nine lives, the President pauses while giving the eulogy at the funeral of one of the victims, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, at the College of Charleston on June 26, 2015. Rev. Pinckney's family is seated in the front row at lower left.

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37) President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama look out at the Chicago, Ill., skyline, June 15, 2012.