Dear Mr. President,

I am so proud to sit here and write this. You are not only our 44th president of these United States; you are also our very first African American President (just in case you were unaware of that fact). That in and of itself is a great thing and shows how far we've come. As you said in your inauguration speech, not even 60 years ago your father would have been refused service at a restaurant. From my perspective, the greatest part of today is that we chose the best candidate for president (in my opinion) DESPITE the fact that you are African American. I may be naive when I say this, but I choose to believe that in this race for president we did not vote for a color but rather the best of the best. I believe that you would not have wanted to be elected just for the color of your skin, but rather how you proposed to change the country for the better.

When you were declared the winner, I hope that everyone felt (even those who did not vote for you) that there was no loser. Truly, we all won and proved that we have come so far. My favorite quote was something to the effect of "Obama has finished what a King started."

The night you were declared the 44th president of the United States I thought of my students, who were so interested in the election since school began last fall, making banners and begging me to tell them who I was voting for. The day after the election I asked my class (21 7 & 8 year olds, many whose parents are immigrants) who they would have voted for, if they could have voted. Only 2 students disagreed with the outcome and I could swear that I noticed a difference in some of my students. November 5th, 2008 was a day when the world shifted, and children who were not white and affluent, believed with all their hearts they could be anything they wanted to be.

When I heard the news that you had been elected, I pictured my students from Sudan, India, Bosnia, Mexico, and many other countries. I saw them in a different light, a different world, where all their dreams could come true and no longer did just I and the child believe it, but the country confirmed it. This was a day that I saw the United States reach out to each and every child and whisper in their ear that "anything is possible, anything can be." This made me proud to be part of this country.

A student from the first year I taught, Ngor (from Sudan), is one of the most intelligent people I have met in my entire life (and that includes many adults) and I believe, down to my core, the only reason he entered my classroom with the academic skills of a Kindergartner was because he was not given the opportunity to succeed. He amazes me each day with his courage, generosity, and kindness. Today Ngor came to see me before school and said he had a present for Finn (my 8 month old son). He handed me a worn toy. This boy that has nothing (he wears the same outfit almost every day) has shared what little he has. He gives it selflessly and expects nothing in return. Be wise, Mr. President, and continue to provide these children not only with the hope that they can achieve anything they work for, but also the opportunity to make their dreams come true.

I bring Ngor up today because, although I don't believe the country is quite ready for a person with that color of skin, it does signify that we are moving in that direction and one day it will not only be possible, but it will also come to fruition. I look at my girls who proudly wear hajibs and all the other students, from Cambodia to China, and I feel their hope and it just about makes me want to do more. My son was born as a member of the most advantaged group in our society: American, white, male. However, I speak for both of us when I say that we are proud that he will be competing for college and career opportunities with all different ages, races, sexes, stages and may the best person win.

I watched you being sworn in as president with my class of second graders. It was completely silent, you could have heard a pin drop and as awesome of an experience it was to witness history being made, it was just as great of a moment to see all my students of all colors staring open mouthed at the screen. I almost cried when you took the oath of office and when you gave your speech; it made me want to do more for this country, to create the best country possible. We are so blessed that we live in the greatest country in the world and we need to do our all to make sure that it stays that way for our children, our children's children, and for our neighboring countries. All countries of the world should be so lucky as us and I hope that we can extend a helping hand to make sure they get there! I explained to my students that the reason I am a teacher is because I believe that they can be whatever it is they want to be, as long as they work hard. I work hard today so they can achieve their dream tomorrow.

I heard this today and I thought it summarized everything perfectly. Rosa sat so Martin could walk, Martin walked so Obama could run, Obama ran so kids of any color can fly. I say today Mr. President, that I bow to your wisdom, walk and stand beside you, call on me to help and together we will make this country even better than it is. I pray for your safety; would stand up to fight for this country, and give my life to protect yours.

Kate Hanke