Obama’s human touch: Heartwarming story behind picture of young boy feeling the President’s hair… and how the image has become a West Wing favourite

May 27, 2012 8:38 am 2 comments Views: 1712

It is a surprising image of the most powerful man in the world bowing down to a young boy.
Barack Obama is seen bending over while a five-year-old in a white shirt and red striped tie touches the top of his head, with a curious, calculating look on his face.
The photograph from the Oval Office of Mr Obama showing his human side has recently become become an internet sensation
And now, the story behind the ‘touching’ picture has been revealed.

Touching story: Little Jason Philadelphia, centre, asked the president if their hair felt the same back in 2009; White House photographer Pete Souza captured the moment

The image was taken by White House staff photographer Pete Souza in 2009 – five months after Mr Obama began his presidency.
The young boy is five-year-old Jacob Philadelphia whose father Carlton, a former Marine, was departing his White House job after working at the National Security Council.
It is customary for departing staffers to request a family photograph with the president.
According to the New York Times, once the pictures were taken, the family prepared to leave, but not before Mr Philadelphia’s two sons asked the president one question apiece.
Jacob shyly asked the commander-in-chief if his hair was like the president’s, saying in the softest of voices: ‘I want to know if my hair is just like yours.’
The president couldn’t hear, and asked the five-year-old to repeat his question. He then replied: ‘Why don’t you touch it and see for yourself?’

It was at that moment that the President folded himself at the waist and offered the crown of his head for the little boy to feel. He encouraged Jacob by saying, ‘Touch it, dude!’
That’s when photographer Mr Souza took the now-iconic picture, which the Times says has slightly ‘awkward composition.’
After he felt the President’s head, Jacob issued his verdict to the room: ‘Yes, it does feel the same.’
Since the Ford administration, White House staff photographers have picked new pictures to display on a weekly basis.
He told the Times that the picture became an ‘instant favourite’ with the staff, and said: ‘I think people are struck by the fact that the president of the United States was willing to bend down and let a little boy feel his head.’
The photo still hangs in the West Wing today – while a copy is also proudly hung in the Philadelphia family’s living room.

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