An Open Letter to President Obama on His Last Day in Office

An Open Letter to President Obama on His Last Day in Office:

I remember that fine January morning in 2009, standing on the National Mall as the sun rose gloriously on the day of your inauguration. I was pregnant, and spent the hours before you appeared nudging my way through the crowds back and forth to the port-a-johns. We could see our breath in the frigid air, but we basked in the collective warmth radiating out of the hearts and smiles of the nearly two million of us who waited to welcome you. I asked my husband to lift me up to get a view of the crowd, and as I looked out across the sea of American flags and hopeful eyes, I felt the widest, proudest smile come across my face and a lump of gratitude form in my throat. I was simply honored to consider that the child I was carrying would know a black President in his lifetime.

The hope for what having you in office meant for people of color was my reason for showing up that day. All eyes and ears were glued to you as you accepted your role with appreciation and confidence. I glanced at faces around me and felt the most profound sense of unity, a memory that will never leave me. Back then, my heart did not know the President Obama that we know now. But I had heard whispers of the change, justice, and equality for which you stood...and that was all I needed to give you my blessing.

Then, over the months and years that followed, I fell in love with you and your family for all the security, hope, and kindness you showed in your words and deeds. For the ways that you handled even the most difficult of situations with humility and grace. For the respect you held for your responsibility as President. As your hair grayed, and as your daughters grew into young women, you walked the steady path without falter.

You captivated me with your speeches; words pouring forth from deep within your heart, whether celebrating good news, or in laying your hands on the bereaved. You made me laugh when you were not afraid to laugh at yourself. Your love for your wife made me want to love my own partner more fiercely.

I am proud and grateful that my three children were born during your time as President, and have only known you as our country's leader. You led by example, without scandal or corruption. Your sense of purpose was always clearly focused on the American people, proceeding with thoughtfulness and sincerity. Nothing was ever about your own personal benefit, and you were always quick to give credit where it was due. Politics aside, you are as decent a man as they come...and that is what I believe a President should be, first and foremost.

I am heartbroken to bid you farewell as our Commander-in-Chief, but on behalf of myself and my family, I want to thank you for your steadfast service to our country. You have touched the lives of so many with your leadership, inspiring the people of the United States even across party lines, each and every day until the very end. We are grateful for all the good that came out of your time at the White House. Our great President, you will be missed, but never forgotten.

{snapshots from the 56th inauguration}