Obama Writes a Thank You Note to America

“I’ll be right there with you every step of the way.”

Yin Bogu/Xinhua/ZUMA

With just one more day as president, Barack Obama published a letter on Thursday thanking Americans for being a source of hope for him throughout the past eight years as commander-in-chief. He expressed gratitude for making him not just a better president but a “better man.” Obama noted that while it was long-established tradition for sitting presidents to leave a letter of advice for his successor, he wanted to take the time to express his gratitude directly to the country first.

“Before I leave my note for our 45th president, I wanted to say one final thank you for the honor of serving as your 44th,” he wrote. “Because all that I’ve learned in my time in office, I’ve learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.”

The president also pledged to support Americans “every step of the way” going forth—a promise that appeared to echo remarks he made in his final press conference on Wednesday when he described working as a private citizen to fight against policies that threatened certain “core values,” such as systematic discrimination and efforts to disenfranchise voters. Obama reportedly met with Democratic leaders just last week to discuss his post-presidency plans aimed at fighting Republican gerrymandering in congressional districts.

“All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into that work?—?the joyous work of citizenship. Not just when there’s an election, not just when our own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.” The letter concluded with Obama’s signature campaign slogan, “Yes, we can.”