November 16th, 2008
10:55 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama offers 'very affectionate thanks' to Illinois residents

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama has resigned from the Senate, effective Sunday."] (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama wrote a letter to Illinois residents published in the state's newspapers Sunday, the day his resignation from the Senate became official.

Full text of the letter:

Today, I am ending one journey to begin another. After serving the people of Illinois in the United States Senate — one of the highest honors and privileges of my life — I am stepping down as senator to prepare for the responsibilities I will assume as our nation’s next president. But I will never forget, and will forever be grateful, to the men and women of this great state who made my life in public service possible.

More than two decades ago, I arrived in Illinois as a young man eager to do my part in building a better America. On the South Side of Chicago, I worked with families who had lost jobs and lost hope when the local steel plant closed. It wasn’t easy, but we slowly rebuilt those neighborhoods one block at a time, and in the process I received the best education I ever had. It’s an education that led me to organize a voter registration project in Chicago, stand up for the rights of Illinois families as an attorney and eventually run for the Illinois state Senate.

It was in Springfield, in the heartland of America, where I saw all that is America converge — farmers and teachers, businessmen and laborers, all of them with a story to tell, all of them seeking a seat at the table, all of them clamoring to be heard. It was there that I learned to disagree without being disagreeable; to seek compromise while holding fast to those principles that can never be compromised, and to always assume the best in people instead of the worst. Later, when I made the decision to run for the United States Senate, the core decency and generosity of the American people is exactly what I saw as I traveled across our great state — from Chicago to Cairo; from Decatur to Quincy.

I still remember the young woman in East St. Louis who had the grades, the drive and the will but not the money to go to college. I remember the young men and women I met at VFW halls across the state who serve our nation bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I will never forget the workers in Galesburg who faced the closing of a plant they had given their lives to, who wondered how they would provide health care to their sick children with no job and little savings.

Stories like these are why I came to Illinois all those years ago, and they will stay with me when I go to the White House in January. The challenges we face as a nation are now more numerous and difficult than when I first arrived in Chicago, but I have no doubt that we can meet them. For throughout my years in Illinois, I have heard hope as often as I have heard heartache. Where I have seen struggle, I have seen great strength. And in a state as broad and diverse in background and belief as any in our nation, I have found a spirit of unity and purpose that can steer us through the most troubled waters.

It was long ago that another son of Illinois left for Washington. A greater man who spoke to a nation far more divided, Abraham Lincoln, said of his home, “To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything.” Today, I feel the same, and like Lincoln, I ask for your support, your prayers, and for us to “confidently hope that all will yet be well.”

With your help, along with the service and sacrifice of Americans across the nation who are hungry for change and ready to bring it about, I have faith that all will in fact be well. And it is with that faith, and the high hopes I have for the enduring power of the American idea, that I offer the people of my beloved home a very affectionate thanks.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Illinois
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Michael G Ventura,CA

    This shows once more the type of President he will be! A man of, for and by the PEOPLE-all people.
    It's going to be so nice to not only respect, but had affection for our President again!
    'America, we did ourselves a great favor on November 4th!

    November 16, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |

    My mother was born and raised in Chicago, always have a special place in her heart for Chicago and the state of Illinois!

    Illinois must be so proud to be sending such an intelligent and gifted talent to hopefully get the USA back on track. I have hope he will.

    **We KNOW he knows the constitution considering he 'taught' constitutional law. He also knows what a VP job is, not running the county nor the Senate.

    November 16, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |


    November 16, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Oh boy, this is a great man !!!

    November 16, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. Nilusca

    Oh boy, this is really a great man. We all will be praying for you !!!

    November 16, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. Kwande,Nigeria

    Wonderful write up!
    Such comments, commendations and requests can only come out from a humble heart that knows the values enshrined in someone's roots.
    I wish you the very BEST and You stir the wind of change in America and the world at large.

    November 16, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    President Elect Obma, I am sure that the people of Illinois realize how very blessed they have been to have you working on their behalf and as President you will continue to work for them along with all Americans.

    November 16, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. aurelia- canada


    November 16, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  9. JT Dale from Missouri

    I read some of this speech and I have to say what a grateful man he is. The responsibilities of this job is tough when the country is in good shape, but when this country is in as bad of shape as it is right now, it just became even tougher. Obama cannot do this alone. He is going to need every Democrat, Republican, Independent congressman, senator, representative, and citizen to help him out in achieving what he needs to get done. As Obama said many times over," This is not the Red States of America or The Blue States of America, but this is the United States of America. I will be this great nation's next president." If we just remember that phrase and take it to heart, this country will slowly but surely get back right on track. May God Bless President-Elect Obama and every citizen of this great country. Also, God bless every citizen around the world who needs help.

    November 16, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. maggie

    As someone who worked in non profits and community organizing for a long time, I am excited to see Obama bring this experience to the White House. I will be happy to see him have the last laugh at know-nothing Palin and horse teeth Giuliani who laughed at the very people who do the hands on work in our communities 7 days a week. This experience will give him insight as well as the ability to juggle dozens of responsibilities at once while working with a diverse staff and shrinking budgets. For the first time in a long time, we have a man who has seen real struggle firsthand.

    November 16, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. dustin

    I think if you voted for george bush at any time in your life then you should be banned from talking politics for at least the next 4 years because really, what do you know?

    November 16, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. Dan

    President Elect Obama's background in Chicago's south side is an essential part of his education. He will bring this practical knowledge of what really works at the local level to the national policy stage. He may have soaring rhetoric, but he is grounded in what works.

    November 16, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. Tughral Mirza

    My Dear Obama, May God Almighty give you even more strength, support,wisdome and positive energy to make North America and the world at large a better place for everyone. May you achieve far more than any world leader had ever vision to achive. You are a great hope the only hope in these times of depression. Ameen..Tughral Mirza from Mississauga, ont. Canada.

    November 16, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  14. Man with no campaign

    Where will Obama go now that there is nothing left to campaign for?


    November 16, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. carmen

    Please remember the promise of Change, and not let yourself be changed by political power and pressure.

    November 16, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. John in Arizona

    With Obama, it's easy to believe this letter was written from the heart – and to the heartland. One day historians will be placing this President on the same pedestal as Lincoln.

    November 16, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  17. Trice

    Congratulations President-elect Obama. You are on a wonderful journey, and the smartest one that came out this election year. Its important for children to see the value of education, and not apply simplistic populism as gimmicks. As an educator, I see the excitement in my students' eyes as they think about the possibilities that education brings with it. Yes We Did!!!!!!!

    November 16, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Idiot

    So far just all the talks. Let see how much he can do. People are waiting.....

    November 16, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Thank you too

    I just want to say thank you too. Best luck in all your endeavors. I'm praying for you to suceed and make history again. God bless America.

    November 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. Shane

    good luck obama!!!! and carole let it go. stop dwelling on the past. we need to focus on the future. no matter what party, male or female, we need to focus on the positive instead of bringing up the negative past!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  21. Mysti Girl

    President elect, Obama. North Carolina is praying for you and your family.

    Please rescue a needy homeless dog. Twenty-five percent in shelters are purebred and many wonderful poodle blends among them who do not shed or cause allergies!

    I know somewhere in this great land your pooch is waiting and someone is waiting to lead you to her or him.

    November 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |

    God Bless the poeple of chicago,God bless America and God pleasee our President Elect Barack Obama.We shall continue praying for the world to be a better place.Yes we can and Yes we did

    November 16, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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