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An Open Letter To President Obama

Happy birthday, and thank you for giving America hope.

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Dear Mr. President,

As you first walked the portrait-lined halls of the White House in the historic fall of 2008, I first walked the locker-lined halls of my high school. I was a nervous but enthusiastic freshman who desperately wished she had been old enough to vote for you.

The recession had just begun and hadn't quite hit the suburban bubble I grew up in. But people were still afraid. College grads were moving home, jobless, after working hard and paying heavily for their degrees. Men and women like my parents who dedicated their lives to building careers and providing for their families were suddenly unemployed for the first time in a long time.

On the platform of rebuilding stability in our economy and hope in our future, you were elected. My family and few liberal friends rejoiced that their votes were heard. We rejoiced quietly because in my conservative town, being a proud Democrat could end your friendships or even your job, but we rejoiced.

The next four years were full of great and terrible moments on my home front. In between jobs, my dad worked as a grocery store cashier until his back couldn't take the standing all day. My mother went back to school and dreamed of leaving her corporate job to become a teacher. But she knew teachers were being laid off daily and our family couldn't survive on that small, unstable income. People were spending more years and more money on school than ever before in order to graduate college with the hope of any job at all.

The American home front was great and terrible too. The recession hit hard, public opinion of immigrants faltered, and your naysayers refused to compromise at every turn. But Osama bin Laden was finally brought to justice, Don't Ask Don't Tell was overturned, and ObamaCare was passed!

As 2012–my freshman year of college and your sophomore election–approached, I couldn't have been more excited. I was finally old enough to vote and my voice was part of one of the most momentous times in our nation's history. I joined a small but mighty team of Young Democrats at the University of Georgia. I sang in a chorus concert on the evening of November 6, and rushed home with my friends to excitedly watch the announcement of your reelection.

sarah crawford

On the walls of my childhood bedroom, I pinned snippets of your People essay, “Being the Father I Never Had”. I am fortunate to have a mother and father of my own, but from your first day in office, I felt like your family was my second family. Together, you, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha symbolized both American wholesomeness and American progressiveness. You worked hard for and believed in the potential of every American, but you still made time for your own family and shared some laughs along the way.

I graduated from college on Friday, May 13th, 2016, and it couldn’t have felt like a luckier day. I entered my university with no idea what I should study. I lacked optimism about the jobs my undergraduate degree would get me. I graduated four short years later, full of love and pride and hope. For our nation, our graduating class, and my future career. My peers have already gone on to benefit our community with their work. I have faith that if I keep working hard, I too will have the opportunity to leave a positive impact on this great nation I call home.

So, I want to thank you. From the bottom of my heart. From my family and my peers–those who voted for you and those who didn’t. I firmly believe that this country has not yet felt the tremendous, lasting effects of your eight years in office. Thank you for never giving up on the American Dream. And thank you for working tirelessly and selflessly to extend that dream to every person who lives, and will one day live, in this country.

Because of you, America is a better place. For me and for all.

With all the gratitude and love and hope in my heart,

Sarah Crawford

Proud American, Proud Democrat, Proud UGA Graduate

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