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. katiec

    What a gracious and wonderful man.
    When Barack Obama was a senator in IL, I, with my usual
    "speaking out" e mailed him with questions, suggestions
    and sometimes disagreement.
    My e mails were always acknowledged with answers and
    references to every question I had. Never, once, did I
    receive a form letter.
    At that time I realized how caring Barack was for and about
    the people he represented.
    If allowed, he will make us a great president.
    Hopefully ALL politicians will work together for the
    survival of our country.

    November 16, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  2. j.a. jORDAN

    Wow!!! There really is something very special about Obama. God bless him and God speed his journey to The White House.

    November 16, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. xdiyguy

    Great letter from the man who will be my next president. I felt from the first moment I read and heard of him that he would have the internal fortitude to succeed in life. We will see.

    November 16, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Congratulations on all your work, President-elect Obama!!!!!

    November 16, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  5. Simmy

    Mr. President,
    We love you so much, and thank you for you committment to bring change to our beloved country. We know it won't be easy, and it won't come overnight, but we the people are behind you! You will be a wonderful President! Prayers always to you and your family!

    With love and prayers,

    A family of supporters from Chi-town!

    November 16, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. Tom

    President elect Obama you have made me such a believer, and most of all to have hope that our country once again will be the beacon of beacons that all nations will see us as the greatest nation that gives all opportunity to all, and you have shown that it is possible.

    Thank you Obama for showing me that all is not lost, and hope will forever remain for those you seek a better tomorrow, and a fruitful life.

    November 16, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. Meka

    Thank you, President Elect Obama. America will Pray, and work towards your being successful . . . in this most difficult period in America's History.

    Again, thanks!

    November 16, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. strong

    Yeah, you're welcome Barky. Whatever.

    I have to laugh at all these politicians (Obama included, of course) who say they got into politics to help their fellow man and make this world a better place to live in. Baloney! They all end up lining their own pockets, reeking of corporatism and elitism all the way.

    Change, yes we need change. But we ain't gonna get it here with Barky. Same old, same old.

    November 16, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |


    November 16, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. dome

    well said

    November 16, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. independent

    Abe Lincoln is smiling back at you. Truly remarkable Man. Thank you Illinois for sharing. Good luck on this remarkable journey.

    November 16, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  12. Franky

    My boy better thank us!

    Considering we are a dynasty baby! LOL!!

    In your face New York!! LOL!!

    Go Bears!! Ohhh man, I hope, LOL!!

    November 16, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  13. edex

    May GOD be with you in everything you do in life and may GOD use you to lead this Geat country in peace and prosperity. AMEN

    November 16, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  14. Lisa from Illinois

    And we were proud to have you as our Senator. These are difficult times and we need change and real leadership. Good luck President-elect Obama!

    Please make it your priority to get us out of Iraq and close Guantanamo!

    November 16, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  15. petena

    We can't wait for you to step into your new role! YES WE CAN!

    November 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. Ted van Tol

    Thanks Barack , your wind off change has become a hurricane
    of hope all around the world. You are a very special and blessed
    man. May God keep you and your family safe!

    November 16, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. Frank from Canada

    Keeping in touch with people even after the election. It's looking good.

    November 16, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. Kate

    How many leaders remember to thank the people for the education they gave them and not the glory?

    Obama continues to inspire. Thanks to him and those he has drawn to his side, politics may well stop being a dirty word.

    November 16, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. mitch

    america thanks them ,too.

    November 16, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. Darcy - AR

    Thank you Illinois for readying Obama for the adventure of my lifetime.

    November 16, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. Hope in NJ

    Illinois' loss is America's gain. President Elect Obama, congratulations again, and thank you for bringing hope and motivation to this country again. I look forward to working with you to ensure a better future for America.

    November 16, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  22. Dixie AZ

    I think that this is a fitting tribute to the people of Illinois. It reminds me a bit of the goodby of a soldier going off to war, which is exactly PE Obama's situation. What he will face as our new president is mind boggling.

    November 16, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  23. Kay

    I would like the President-elect to be my work spouse!!

    November 16, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. Al

    As the late, great Sammy Davis Jr. would say "Chicago...Chicago...that ToddlingTown, that Toddling Town"! Way to go Illinois!

    November 16, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. Pierre Hebert

    What a man! Thank God for Obama Barack! He inspires because he touches the right issues and joins the struggle of every one to be whole. May he move us all to join the struggle and make the struggle less burdensome because we are together pulling for everyone. Thank God for Obama Barck!

    November 16, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
1 2 3