President Obama wrote a final note on Thursday to the American public expressing his gratitude for “the honor” of serving as the nation’s 44th president.
“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,” the letter said. “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.”
Obama continued to thank the American public for its “goodness, resilience, and hope,” and said that “[a]ll 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.”
He went on to talk about his experiences dealing with tragedy and difficult economic times.
“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,” Obama wrote.
He also took time to thank the military and scientific communities for their dedicated service to the country and their fellow citizens. He additionally pointed out a few key aspects of his legacy, writing, “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.”
He continued: “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.”
Obama ended the letter on a note he’s frequently struck in the final days of his presidency: urging the American public to participate in civic life. “All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into that work – the joyous work of citizenship,” he wrote, and added that he will “be right there with you every step of the way.”
“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,'” the letter said.
It ended with the slogan that kicked off Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign: “Yes, we can.”