Barack Obama has penned a personal letter to his daughters, Sasha and Malia, explaining he ran for the Presidency "because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation." The letter, appearing Jan. 18 in Parade magazine, reads:
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 boundaries of discovery so that you'll live to see new technologies and inventions that improve our lives and make our planet cleaner and safer. And I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us from seeing the best in each other.
Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country--but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free--that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.
That was the lesson your grandmother tried to teach me when I was your age, reading me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and telling me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something.
She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better--and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It's a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.
I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you've had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much--although you do have that obligation. But because you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.
These are the things I want for you--to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That's why I've taken our family on this great adventure.
I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humor as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.
Welcome to Washington, Malia and Sasha! The future First Daughters woke up bright and early this morning for their first day of school at D.C.'s prestigious Sidwell Friends School.
Tuition at the private school is about $29,000 per year, and they've educated some of the country's brightest students, with Chelsea Clinton among the famous alums of Sidwell. Mom Hillary, the nation's next Secretary of State, tells "Extra" she's been advising Michelle Obama. "We have talked a couple of times," said Hillary. "She asks all the right questions -- I know she's going to do a terrific job."
Barack, Michelle and the girls are currently staying in a suite at Washington's Hay-Adams Hotel, where this pic of the girls preparing to leave for school was snapped. Some say the famous hotel is haunted by the ghost of Henry Adams' wife!
On January 15, the Obama family will move to Blair House, the official guest quarters of the White House. After Barack's inauguration on the 20th, the family will then settle into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue!
The future First family -- minus President-elect Barack Obama -- flew to Washington yesterday to settle into their new city.
Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha flew to the capital earlier than Barack, who's scheduled to leave today, so that the girls can prepare for their classes to begin at Sidwell Friends School, an aide to Obama dishes to the Washington Post. Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton is among the alumni from the prestigious school.
The Obama family is planning to stay at Washington's Hay-Adams Hotel leading up to the inauguration later this month.
Sasha and Malia -- welcome to the White House!
President-elect Barack Obama sat down with wife Michelle for an interview with Barbara Walters and talked about how the future first daughters will adjust to life in Washington -- and Barack isn't worried about his girls making the transition. "They're kind, thoughtful kids and they show everybody respect," he told Walters. "If they retain that, the other stuff will take care of itself."
While the White House has an extensive staff, mom Michelle says Sasha and Malia won't be given every luxury. "Let them make their own beds," Michelle responded, when asked how the girls will deal with issues of normalcy. "They have to learn these things."
And everyone wants to know about the new first pooch -- what kind of dog will the Obamas choose?! Barbara suggested that Barack get a Cha-Cha -- which the future Commander-in-Chief wasn't having. "Sounds kind of like a girly dog," Obama said. "We're going to have a big rambunctious dog of some sort."
See Barbara Walters' interview with the First Family-elect, tonight on ABC.