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Barack Obama, "What I Want For You--and For Every Child": A Letter to My Daughters

In an open letter to his daughters, Malia and Sasha, appearing in PARADE Magazine on Sunday, January 18, 2009, two days before his inauguration as the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama describes his hopes and dreams for the future with them and with the world.  The letter appears below.

Dear Malia and Sasha,

I know that you"ve both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably shouldn"t have let you have. But I also know that it hasn"t always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it doesn"t make up for all the time we"ve been apart. I know how much I"ve missed these past two years, and today I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.

When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me-about how I"d make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn"t seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn"t count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that"s why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.

I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential-schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college-even if their parents aren"t rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.

I want us to push the

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