Dear President Obama,
Before you officially leave your post, I want to thank you for your service to our country. I have appreciated your leadership for multiple reasons, some of which include policy, style and temperament.
First, thank you for favoring peace over war; in my opinion, this position demonstrates your commitment to and love for humanity. In difficult times I have been grateful for your measured approach to conflict. I have a child who serves in the military, and I have appreciated your deep consideration for the sacrifices that military families make during times of conflict.
Thank you for the controversial steps you took to bail us out of an economic meltdown. You walked into a horrible situation and somehow managed to find a way to keep us afloat in a time when the immediate economic outlook was dire.
Thank you for the Affordable Care Act. One of our young adult children lives with a chronic illness. The monthly medications that keep him well for work and school cost more than one thousand dollars a month, not to mention all of his direct physician based health management needs. As a young man with limited work skills, he simply cannot afford to be without the insurance coverage that we have provided for him all of his life. Because we can now keep him on our insurance plan, he can more easily go about the hard work of becoming a self-sufficient adult who can financially take on his own health care needs in the future, in spite of his pre-existing condition.
Thank you for having enough confidence in the goodness of your fellow citizens to believe that winning the Presidential election was possible; that speaks loudly to your faith and hope in this country.
Thank you for being a gentleman, something that feels like a throwback to a time long gone. It has been a privilege to have a dignified and gracious leader travel the world on our behalf. I believe that your composure, diplomacy, and generosity have likely stifled some of the less than favorable stereotypes held of American citizens by others around the world, so I offer a million thanks to you and your family for making us “look like we come from something,” as my mother would say.
While I feel certain that you and your family have encountered high points during your tenure as President of the United States, I surmise that you have all made significant personal sacrifices as well. All Presidents make personal sacrifices, but my guess is that the personal sacrifices made during your tenure have exceeded the norm. I don’t believe that I could have responded so gracefully to the many hateful race-based remarks directed at the First Family; your ability to show grace to people who withheld grace from you is commendable. Frankly, your commitment to civility is something we should all aspire to reach.
Finally, I apologize for the behavior of my fellow citizens who made your job nastier than it needed to be, were politics the only concern. As you know, breaking a social boundary inspires joy in some and fear in others. However, once that boundary has been broken, it is broken forever, making it easier for all to push against boundaries in the future; thanks is not enough here.
One of my favorite books is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. In chapter thirty-four Steinbeck wrote, “Humans are caught… in a net of good and evil….A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only one hard, clean question: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well-or ill?” (p. 411). Steinbeck goes on to tell the brief story of three men, with the last one “devoted to making men brave and dignified and good in a time when they were poor and frightened and when ugly forces were loose in the world to utilize their fears” (p. 412). According to the story, this man was loved by many.
If I may answer the previously posed question, you have done well in your service to our country, Sir.