Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dreams for His Daughters

The grassroots group that I volunteered with during the campaign took a bus to Washington DC at 2 a.m. this morning. Today I'm kinda wishing I was on that bus. I had a (maybe selfish) impulse to let my kids stay home from school today. We even found this great website, Our White House that (almost) made me want to take on some homeschooling activities, but only one of my kids wanted to stay home. He's engrossed in a Lego project right now, and I'm afraid it's not building a replica of the White House. We'll watch the events of the afternoon on TV today, and later we we may go to an Innaugural Ball that our town is holding at the community center (where, hopefully, there will be dancing!)

Did you see the letter in Parade magazine that Obama wrote to his kids? Just in case you didn't, I'm posting it below. I think it pretty much says what most parents are feeling today. It's a good reminder that Obama's goals are really pretty simple and not at all different from those of most families. Try not to cry when you read it.

What about you? Doing anything to celebrate today?

Dear Malia and Sasha,

I know that you've both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably shouldn't have let you have. But I also know that it hasn't always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it doesn't make up for all the time we've been apart. I know how much I've missed these past two years, and today I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.

When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me-about how I'd make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn't seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn't count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours.

In the end, girls, that's why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation. I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential-schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college-even if their parents aren't rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity. I want us to push the boundaries of discovery so that you'll live to see new technologies and inventions that improve our lives and make our planet cleaner and safer. And I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us from seeing the best in each other.

Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country-but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free-that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.

That was the lesson your grandmother tried to teach me when I was your age, reading me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and telling me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something. She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better-and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It's a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be. I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you've had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much-although you do have that obligation. But because you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.

These are the things I want for you-to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That's why I've taken our family on this great adventure. I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humor as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.

Love, Dad


tina said...

Brings tears to my eyes. I do hope this comes to pass for all our children.

Squirrel said...

I've been holding back tears all day--it's been overwhelming and ... just amazing.

Karen said...

Oh, I've been quite the waterworks all day today! Thanks for posting the letter, I hadn't seen it. Our school had quite a day - a big screen set up in the morning to watch the ceremony, and then an MLK/peace assembly with lots of singing. Nice way to spend the day, with the kids.

Anonymous said...

I do believe he feels this way about every child out there. I am impressed with his sincerity.