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Dear Mr. President:

First, you need to know that this letter is neither to commend or condemn the job you’ve done serving America. Indeed, I will attempt to keep my views of current and proposed healthcare, foreign and domestic policies hidden within this letter, though I assure you I have researched and formulated my own opinions on all thoroughly. But, after listening to the debate Wednesday night and viewing the resulting commentary / arguments today, the notion that where once passionate political debate actually bought us all together, it is now slowly but surely dividing us has weighed on my mind and heart. I listened to and read downright hateful remarks aimed at you, Mr. President, and grew sad because whether or not I agree with your politics and handling of our country does not change the fact that, as of this moment in time, you are still my President.

I’d like to tell you a story my pastor tells about this time each election year. When he was young, a particular election drew fierce debate and ideas in his household. For months, all he heard was his father cheering for one of the candidates and enumerating the flaws of the other. Election came, the father voted. The candidate he was fiercely against won. My pastor, a young boy at the time, said he hated the newly elected president. His father responded by telling him that that kind of disrespectful talk toward the president of the United States would not be tolerated, ever, in that house. My pastor replied by reminding his father that he had not wanted that man to win the election. His father replied that that was beside the point. The fact was that he was now president and it was their responsibility as good citizens and Christians to pray for and support the President that had been elected by majority vote.

That story has stuck with me ever since I first heard my pastor, a man I greatly admire, tell it. I also remember being in the sixth grade and watching Clinton and Bush fight for the election, then being so proud when I finally voted during the school’s student Election Day. I wasn’t alive to hear the fireside chats, but I know what they were. I cried when Bush wrapped his arm around the firefighter at ground zero. I got chill bumps when you gave your inauguration speech and, regardless of which way I voted, at that moment in time, I trusted and believed and completely supported you.

You see…

The thing is… I remember a time when presidents were looked to as role models–at least in my world. I remember learning the names of every one in order and little tidbits of information about each. I remember when the sides of Republican and Democrat were strong but not divisive. I remember feeling safe because a certain man was in office. I remember on 9/11 being terribly, terribly scared that Bush’s life was in immediate danger—not necessarily because I agreed with everything he did but because he was my president.

Call me an idealist, but I believe that in order to even become a serious presidential candidate, one has to have a basic, genuine love of this country. And even if I disagree with someone on every single other issue, I can find common ground in that because I, too, deeply love America. Call me what you will but I somehow doubt that any one person could do a perfect job of running this country and I also doubt that anyone could accomplish all of his of her ideals and plans for this country in four years with our current system of “checks and balances.” Forgetting that beneath the party lines, we all have one common dream–the health of this nation, is dangerous. Forgetting how to treat those in authority, even and maybe especially when, we disagree with them is dangerous. We are all Americans. All our lives were forever altered on 9/11. We all felt great fear. But we all united together, we all helped one another. We all defended this country and we all helped one another heal. That’s the unity that America was founded on, and it’s the spirit with which I want to look upon our president.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s wonderful and worthwhile to argue, even passionately so, the policies and/or potential policies of anyone we elect to the presidential office. Nothing can be accomplished if we don’t talk about policies. Arguing the details is one thing; criticizing the character of the one elected by the American people is another.

So.

In the midst of all these worthwhile debates ( and I am glad we have them ), I want to take a sort of time out and say thank you. Thank you for all that you have done and tried to do–I trust that you have sought to care for this country and that is the most important thing I, as a citizen, can ask. Thank you for the many sleepless nights I am sure you’ve faced as you wrestled with your conscience in regards to which decisions to make when. Thank you for loving this country enough to enter politics and eventually run for President. I can’t promise you will win another election. I can’t even promise you that you have my vote. But I want to teach my daughters that Americans stand behind their president. I want to teach my daughters that there is more to politics than the name of a party. I want to teach my daughters to vote for the candidate they believe will work the hardest to vigilantly protect and enhance this country, and the values upon which she was founded. I want to teach them to voice their concerns over policies and laws. I also want to teach them that the President is a human being and, as such, deserves our respect. I don’t have to like someone to give basic respect, and it doesn’t hurt my beliefs to thank someone for the work he has done for our country.

I look forward to the debates because I want ideas thrown into the mix. I want to test the strength and ideas and plans of both candidates. But I will not help to divide this country by attacking the character of either. I will keep the President in a position of esteem and care, and I will support him because I support the United States itself.

Little boys look up to action figures like G.I. Joe and Batman. Little girls look up to princesses like Cinderella and Rapunzel (and, if you live in my house, Merida). But this country’s real “action figures”, the ones who make it what it is and has always been, are those who shed blood and sweat for it. Soldiers, police officers… And the ultimate hero then is the President. I want someone who mirrors my philosophies and ideas for this country in office but I am wise enough to know that others may have better ideas; for that reason, I hold respect for whoever holds the title of President.

Time will tell who will become our next President. November 6 is still a month away. But I will never forget who Barack Obama is because, whether you win or lose, you have tried and worked to defend and enhance our country; whether you win or lose, you have sacrificed more than I can know for this land we both love. I am not an island, I I am not a foreigner living on foreign soil. No, I am an American and, as such, you have been my president too.

A solider in the war sent home a letter and asked that his wife send him a bag of dirt and some grass seeds. He planted American soil in Iraq and, before a mission, he and the other soldiers would walk across the grass for good luck. I saw a picture of him cutting this American grass with scissors. Our soldiers have loyalty and dedication and patriotism; they love this land and have truly sacrificed for it. The President is the Commander in Chief of the army; this implies that he too has sacrificed for this land. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to the soldiers who fight for my freedom. And thank you to the President who serves my country. May God grant you wisdom, peace and comfort for your efforts. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

An American Citizen

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