Thank you, President Obama

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“Yes We Can. Yes We Did. Yes We Can.” – President Barack Obama

This past weekend, I began an attempt to organize my office. I began recycling junk mail and creating a pile of papers I wanted to keep. But like all my other “attempts” tend to go, I got distracted when I found one of my old journals in the desk drawer.

I gladly picked it up and began to skim the pages. A bright red sticker with the words “I Voted” jumped out at me. There was a piece of blue construction paper glued onto the page with a folded up newspaper article tucked underneath. I slid out the article before I began reading the words I had written in 2008. 

The 2008 presidential election was the first time I had voted in my life. Earlier that year, I studied abroad in South Africa. During my time there, I was able to witness how the rest of the world watched our elections. They knew more about who was running and what their policy views were. To put it simply, I felt completely stupid. That experience was the catalyst that pushed me to learn more about what and who I was voting for.

It’s a pretty easy guess who I voted for that year. Some popular words in the journal post are ‘hope’ and ‘change’. But if I had to compose a synopsis, it would be this: A young woman carried out her civic duty with pride. Her civic duty that was afforded to her by the sacrifice of so many before her. With pride in a country where she is free.

Today, President Obama will be leaving the White House, and I am feeling a lot of emotions. I feel sad that eight years later, this particular journey has ended. But also, I feel grateful, empowered, and yes, still hopeful.

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for lighting my passion for politics and the desire to see change and action.

Thank you for showing me that strength and humility are not mutually exclusive.

Thank you for being an example of civility and grace in the face of animosity.