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President Barack Obama had one final task to complete during his last day in the White House: Writing a thank-you note to America.
Explaining that it’s a long-standing tradition for the sitting president to leave a parting letter in the Oval Office for his successor, Obama took to Facebook to also thank the American people before he hands over the reins to President-elect Donald Trump on Friday.
“Because all that I’ve learned in my time in office,” he explained, “I’ve learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.”
Crediting the neighbors and communities throughout the country for giving him “hope from which I’ve pulled strength,” Obama praised Americans for taking care of each other during the worst economic crisis in recent memory, specifically mentioning young graduates, scientists, wounded warriors and children who have reminded “us through their actions and through their generosity of our obligations to care for refugees, or work for peace, and, above all, to look out for each other.”
He added, “I’ve seen you, the American people, in all your decency, determination, good humor, and kindness. And in your daily acts of citizenship, I’ve seen our future unfolding.”
He urged the country to continue to do so at all times, not only when there’s an election, and offered a way to continue to stay connected by sharing a link to his Keep In Touch page via the Obama Foundation.
He signed off with a hopeful note, citing his campaign mantra: “Yes we can.”
Obama delivered his farewell address in Chicago last week and held his final press conference with reporters’ in the White House briefing room Wednesday. For his last day as president, the only events on his public calendar were his presidential daily briefing and final weekly lunch with Vice President Joe Biden, in the president’s private dining room.
Read Obama’s full letter below:
It’s a long-standing tradition for the sitting president of the United States to leave a parting letter in the Oval Office for the American elected to take his or her place. It’s a letter meant to share what we know, what we’ve learned, and what small wisdom may help our successor bear the great responsibility that comes with the highest office in our land, and the leadership of the free world.
But before I leave my note for our 45th president, I wanted to say one final thank you for the honor of serving as your 44th. Because all that I’ve learned in my time in office, I’ve learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.
Throughout these eight years, you have been the source of goodness, resilience, and hope from which I’ve pulled strength. I’ve seen neighbors and communities take care of each other during the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. I have mourned with grieving families searching for answers – and found grace in a Charleston church.
I’ve taken heart from the hope of young graduates and our newest military officers. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and wounded warriors once given up for dead walk again. I’ve seen Americans whose lives have been saved because they finally have access to medical care, and families whose lives have been changed because their marriages are recognized as equal to our own. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us through their actions and through their generosity of our obligations to care for refugees, or work for peace, and, above all, to look out for each other.
I’ve seen you, the American people, in all your decency, determination, good humor, and kindness. And in your daily acts of citizenship, I’ve seen our future unfolding.
All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into that work – the joyous work of citizenship. Not just when there’s an election, not just when our own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.
I’ll be right there with you every step of the way.
And when the arc of progress seems slow, remember: America is not the project of any one person. The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘We.’ ‘We the People.’ ‘We shall overcome.’
Yes, we can.
And if you’d like to stay connected, you can sign up here to keeping getting updates from me: https://act.barackobamafoundation.org/Keep-In-Touch
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