We Had The Audacity To Hope: A Farewell Letter To The Obamas

Original article can be found on The Huffington Post.

2008 was nearly a decade ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I was still planted on the east coast and was living in Boston. For a city that anchors this country’s history, with deep roots in academics and politics, I now look back and realize how apropos it was to watch the next era of America be ushered in with Obama’s presidency.

Through a series of happy accidents my husband scored tickets to the 2004 DNC in Boston. He bore witness to (a then lesser known) Barack Obama’s speech, touting the power of the American story and how “there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.” WIth that, a future president was born.

Then on November 8, with a group of our closest friends at our home, we watched with immense pride as Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha took the stage at Grant Park after his election victory. We saw ourselves in this beautiful, vibrant but humble family that was about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. We reveled in the hope of a new nation. That every American matters and that anything is possible. We had so much positive change to look forward to: job creation and economic stimulus, affordable healthcare, marriage equality, and support for military families to name a few. For the past 8 years I rested easier knowing that our President was a calm and steady force who was looking after our nation with the goal to unify parties. And our First Lady so gracefully exemplified elegance, strength, affection, and passion for her initiatives. Most importantly, she showed us that we all matter and have a place here.

Though I am highly uncertain what our immediate future holds I will carry with me the values that they have imparted as mantras to move forward:

  • This America belongs to all of us. Every background, creed, race, and ethnicity.
  • Anything is possible with hard work and dedication.
  • Education unlocks the key to success.
  • We have the capacity to change.
  • Democracy requires a basic sense of solidarity.
  • It is nice to be important, but even more important to be nice.
  • Change starts with ordinary people.
  • Democracy is a privilege but we have continue to do the work.
  • We have a voice and are obliged to use it, especially for those who have less than us.
  • Believe that we can and do anything we put our hearts and minds to.
  • We must leave this world a better place for our children.
  • When they go low, we go high.

I will continue to walk with my head held high as a citizen of this country which is and always will be the greatest in the world. And I will have increased kindness and empathy for others. We have more in common with our fellow Americans than we are different. To earn the privilege of freedom I will continue to use my voice, work hard and fight for what is right. And above all, always choose love, for ignorance and fear breed hate.

It has been the honor of our lives to have you as our first family. As I tearfully watch you wave farewell from the Capitol, I have to accept this as the end of a golden era for America. Though my heart aches over you leaving, I am comforted knowing that you will be alongside us as a citizen. And when faced with challenges, we will remember that this is and will always be the greatest nation on earth with a road to opportunity. You have inspired a new generation of changemakers who will carry us to amazing great lengths with passion and ferocity, just as you have done.

As Obama said in his goodbye from Andrews Air Force Base, “This is not a period but a comma, a pitstop in our continuing America.”

Yes we can, yes we did, and yes we still will.

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