By Wesley Hutchins
Dear Mr. President,
Seven-and-a-half years ago, you wrote a congratulatory letter to me for earning the rank of Eagle Scout. I had written to you in the previous year to request that letter while you were a senator running for president, and I did so because I sought to receive letters from several political figures I respected or were of relevance to me, including local and statewide officials in Georgia, the sitting president, and the two major candidates vying to succeed him.
By the time I began my freshman year at the University of Georgia in August 2008, I had received responses from most of the people to whom I had written requesting letters. However, I had not received one from you. The months went by without a letter and eventually, you became president, so I all but gave up hope on receiving a letter.
Then just before I returned to UGA for my sophomore year in August 2009, a letter arrived from the White House and sure enough, it was your congratulatory letter at last. It contained a warm and encouraging message in which you congratulated me on my achievement, expressed your hope for my future based on the values I learned in the Boy Scouts, and noted how you were inspired by young people such as myself who wish to make our nation and our world a better place.
It was a humble honor to receive such a letter from the President of the United States, and my only regret was that it was unable to be presented and read at my Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony earlier that year following your first inauguration. I was and remain very grateful for this letter, and will cherish it for the rest of my life.
Also, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to you for serving as our president these past eight years. Your presidency has been historic, facing many challenges on domestic and international fronts, and you have dealt with them all to the best of your abilities in a political landscape that has often been fractious at best.
Nevertheless, you have carried yourself with a grace, dignity, and style that has been admirable and deserving of respect and your overall conduct in office is something I believe most of us are proud of as Americans. Regardless of where you stood on the issues, I see you as a class act and a role model.
I shall miss the dynamic duo of you and Vice President Joe Biden, which by all accounts appears to be an excellent example of executive branch partnership (and not just in the meme’s!), and I shall also miss our elegant First Lady, Michelle, and your daughters who have grown up so beautifully during their time in the White House.
For my part, I graduated from UGA in 2012, and as I contemplate what my future holds, I take inspiration from your example, especially as an African-American having witnessed the presidency of the first black person to hold that office. In many ways, I do not believe I fully appreciated the significance of that achievement, and initially saw you as simply the 44th in our long line of presidents. However, after attending your second inauguration, I came to increasingly understand your meaning to me as an African-American specifically and more generally as an American.
Perhaps this greater appreciation is also a result of the presidential campaign this year and what is to come after you.
As your presidency concludes, I must express that I have serious concerns for our country and the direction it may be heading, but I remain optimistic that we the people will move forward together and give our new president a chance.
In conclusion, I again thank you for your letter and thank you for being our president. The fact is that you mean a lot to me and I hope that your example, alongside that of others, may be able to guide me to the next stage of my life.
I have not agreed with everything you have done, but I do believe that you have been a very good president and that in the overall scheme of things, history will judge you favorably.
In your post-presidency, I hope that you will enjoy the privileges of a private citizen while remaining active in public and being a positive force in our national dialogue. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as one chapter of your lives closes and a new one opens, and I wish you all the best. Please keep me and my family in your thoughts and prayers as well.
Thank you for your service to our country, sir, and I wish you all the best.
Featured image: Shepard Fairey
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.