ask potus

A beautiful boy, so eloquently named Potus (don’t ask, we’ve been going with an American president theme for dog names). He’s also a natural model

PaleyFest NY

Yesterday was absolutely EPIC. It is always double-fun when you can share fan-girling experiences with friends, so me and @daragoldfitz had a blast hanging out with BAEs, and more than we expected to!

We first got tickets to The View when it was announced that Kerry would go there. Kerry switched things around last minute, and decided to go to Kelly and Ryan (or whatever that show is called). Dara got the tickets there for us last minute, and we should up super early (unreasonably early!) and stood outside for what seemed like hours waiting to get in (I just hate standing in lines, so I had very little patience for that). 

We finally got in, say down, and the recording started. It is always fun to watch how the live show is being recorded. Then before too long, Kerry comes on. 

They are chatting, and laughing and it is cool to see her and we are excited. Then a few minutes in, they start prepping for a game. Look at this MOFOs face, she KNEW we would all freak the F out!! 

(I think up here ^^ Ryan is explaining the rules, and Kerry is pumping up the audience). Then she starts saying that she needs another person on her team (since Kelly and Ryan are playing together), and that then announces that she asked “pretend Potus” to come in. I swear it took me a couple f seconds to connect in my head that she meant Tony. And then I remember turning to Dara and saying no way!

But sure enough, we watch on as Tony strolls in. We just SCREAMED. I am not even sure what Dara was doing, but I was almost knocked out of my chair :-))) It was the BEST. SURPRISE. EVER!!!!!!!!!!

I could see that both Kelly and Ryan were surprised too, so that’s neat what Kerry and Tony did :-))

Above here Kerry as you can see have lost her shoes (she did say prior to the game starting and Tony showing up that it is slippery on the floor in heels). And here she is reminding him that they came to WIN :-))))

The game was HILARIOUS, though Kerry can’t draw for life, LOL. They were so CUTE and cuddly and funny and Terry together, we kept on turning to each other with Dara and saying “OMGOOOOD”.

Terry won of course (duh!), Tony keeps his eyes on his real PRIZE though :P

I very vaguely remember the end of the show because we were just floating on cloud 9 and still in disbelief. I can’t remember when T&K even came to the show together, just them?

Fat-forward to the evening and standing in another line (to get into Paley now), here we are, excited for more Terry :-)

We had to suffer through 2 hours of Scandal before panel began (I won’t go into details, but I am very happy I stopped watching the show and only follow through Tumblr to keep up with cute Olitz moments)…

We had a good seat (1st row!) but kind of to the side. I wish we were a bit more central, though it was still a bit surreal to sit SO CLOSE to them :)

I liked the panel, that everyone got to talk a little bit, and I thought the moderator did a good job preparing. I wish Tony/Kerry talked more, and the panel was longer. But they had to go live tweet and I bet they (especially T&K) were exhausted after this CRAZY week of promoting the finale, so I am glad we got to listen to them for as long as they could stay!

We finished the evening with more friends and sharing our impressions and views on the show that we don’t watch, HA. 

My absolute favorite picture (check @daragoldfitz‘s blog her her awesome pictures!!) is from the morning, here it is :-)

Asked and Answered: “This country needs more spunk”

Lily is an eight-year-old kid from a military family. She wrote to President Obama to let him know that the “country needs more spunk.” Lily suggested that the President should make sure to do something fun and asked him to keep the country calm. Read what the President responded to Lily and check out her full letter below.

Read Lily’s letter to President Obama: 

Dear Mr. President,

I think this country needs more spunk. With all the attacks, the Zika virus, and the wars, this country is a very sad place. Please do something fun. Wear a tie-dye shirt and shorts to something important. Go on a water skiing trip in the Caribbean. Take your family to Disney World. Do something fun and out going. Also, please say something that will make everyone calm. You do know know how many politics worries I have.

Congratulations on having served almost eight years as President! I almost forgot to write that. I am your biggest fan, too. My dad is in the Air Force and that inspired me to have my back up job be President. (My dream job is cardiovascular surgeon.) Keep running the country!

Sincerely,
Lily
8 years old

P.S. Thank you for being such an inspiration.

And see how President Obama responded:

The White House
Washington

August 3, 2016

Dear Lily,

Thanks for the fun letters and suggestions. You seem like a great kid, and I can tell you’ve got plenty of spunk to help keep our Nation strong!

While I don’t know how the First Lady or my daughters would feel about me wearing a tie-dye shirt in public, I do know that one of my greatest responsibilities as President is ensuring your generation can thrive — and that includes making sure you can live in safety and reach for boundless opportunity. I know things happening around the world can sometimes be worrisome, but we can make real and lasting progress if young people like you focus on growing and learning and keep speaking out about important challenges our Nation faces. As long as I serve in this Office and beyond, I’ll continue fighting to ensure kids all across our country are limited by nothing but the scope of their imaginations and the size of their dreams.

Again, thank you for the advice — and please tell your dad how grateful I am for his service. Wherever your hard work and talents take you — whether it’s becoming a cardiovascular surgeon, the President of the United States, or chasing a dream you’ve yet to discover — always remember that you have a big role to play in shaping the world and making a difference in people’s lives. Your enthusiasm and drive give me great hope for the future, and I am confident you can achieve your highest aspirations if you put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from you!

Your friend,
Barack Obama

Tragedy....😂😂😂😂

Donald Trump was visiting a primary school in Orlando and visited a grade four class. They were in the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings.
The teacher asked Mr.Trump if he would like to lead the discussion on the word ‘tragedy.’ So our illustrious POTUS asked the class for an example of a 'tragedy’.
One little boy stood up and offered: “If my best friend, who lives on a farm, is playing in the field and a tractor runs him over and kills him, that would be a tragedy.”
“No,” said Trump, “that would be an accident.”
A little girl raised her hand: “If a school bus carrying 50 children drove off a cliff, killing everyone, that would be a tragedy.”
“I’m afraid not,” explained Trump. “That’s what we would call great loss.”
The room went silent. No other child volunteered. Trump searched the room.
“Isn’t there someone here who can give me an example of a tragedy?”
Finally at the back of the room, Little Johnny raised his hand. The teacher held her breath.
In a quiet voice he said: “If the plane carrying you was struck by a 'friendly fire’ missile and blown to smithereens that would be a tragedy.”
“Fantastic!” exclaimed Trump, “That’s right. And can you tell me why that would be a tragedy?”
“Well,” says Johnny, “It has to be a tragedy, because it sure as hell wouldn’t be a great loss… and you can bet your sweet ass it wouldn’t be an accident either!” The teacher left the room 😳🤣
#Repost

anonymous asked:

im an independent, so im not asking this question as someone who's pro-conservative or pro-reagan, but why do you hate reagan so much? im just genuinely curious, because i dont know much about him. love ur blog tho

well, because of some personal issues going on, i haven’t been able to research him a lot. or anything else honestly. so take this with a grain of salt as i may be getting some things wrong, and i’m sure he hasn’t done only bad things (no president is only good or only bad). but, the main reason i hate him so much is that i’m LGBT and he was anti-LGBT (and that’s just putting it nicely [and i don’t want to hear any of the ‘it was the time period!’ stuff]).

i’m sure you’ve heard of the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s - but i’ll just assume you don’t know the details because public high schools, etc. uuusually don’t really teach LGBT history. 

anyway, reagan served two (2) terms during the 1980s. when doctors began to notice that people were getting this virus called HIV/AIDS in the 80s, the reagan administration ignored it. entirely. he didn’t even mention the words until around 1985 (if i remember correctly). 

Lester Kinsolving brought it up to reagan’s press secretary, Larry Speakes, who just … laughed it off. literally, he and everyone else were laughing at it when Kinsolving said that it was known as the ‘gay disease.’ and didn’t take it seriously at all, when people were dying on the streets. he even joked that Kinsolving had it because he mentioned it!!! here is an amazing video on their conversations and the fact that Kinsolving kept bringing it up with no use. it’s not even 10 minutes, if you’re interested.

reagan didn’t listen to the people. people were DYING on the streets and begging for medicine, and they denied them help because they were LGBT and people claimed that it was a punishment from god for being LGBT (which, of course, is disgusting). gay/lesbian people were infected, trans people were infected, bi people were infected - and bi people were blamed for transferring the disease to straight people. honestly, the whole situation was a mess.

oh- oh, and something that REALLY bothers me- i’m unsure if you’re interested in old hollywood, but the actor Rock Hudson was a gay man, and he was friends with the reagans (on the left). when he contracted HIV/AIDS, he needed help and he needed better treatment. all he needed was to be moved into a different hospital. he sent first lady nancy reagan a letter asking for help, and her response was basically …. “Sorry, we can’t move you because the White House can’t seem like it’s favoring friends :)” and then rock hudson died from complications due to the virus. and the reagans had the audacity to say they lost their ‘dear friend rock hudson’ or something - dear friend?? but you let him die from HIV/AIDS because you wouldn’t move him to a different hospital????

so, really, i hate the reagan administration overall, but mainly ronald reagan because he was … the president, of course. he’s supposed to help in times of crisis. my anger is valid and i still mourn my LGBT brothers and sisters who died in the crisis.

also, from a political standpoint regarding republicans looooving ronald reagan, i’ve heard that he was pro-gun control and pro-amnesty, but please don’t quote me. and his son, ronald reagan jr., is a democrat - take that as you wish.

thanks for the question anon, and i hope i answered it!! and im glad you like my blog! i hope i didn’t come off condescending or anything, i just become..blunt when explaining serious things!

Asked and Answered: A Letter to a Mother Concerned About the Zika Virus

It’s the height of mosquito season. What is normally a nuisance in the summer has turned into a serious public health emergency, especially for Americans who are expecting or planning to start a family.

The Zika virus — and the mosquitos that carry it — have made their way to the United States. The President is working with local officials, the Centers for Disease Control, and other federal agencies to do what we can to prevent the spread of the virus and help Americans in the affected areas protect themselves and their families.

You can learn more about the virus and how to protect yourself here.

The threat this virus poses to developing babies is particularly concerning for women who are pregnant or thinking about starting or growing their families. One woman, Ashley Young, wrote directly to the President about her concern:

“In the south, it is hard to walk outside and not get bitten by a mosquito in the warmer months. … Mr. President, if I am going to be completely honest with you, if I wasn’t already pregnant, I would think twice about becoming pregnant at all until something is done about this virus.”

The President, whose administration has been working around the clock on the Zika virus, shares her concern, and wrote back to her.

Read Ashley’s letter and the President’s response:

Mr. President,

I am a very concerned pregnant woman living in the south. The recent news about the Zika virus has been in numerous news stories recently. I am currently pregnant with my third child. I have two, healthy boys that bring so much joy into my life daily. We went through quite a long, difficult journey to conceive both of our boys, but with our third child everything has been much easier. However, thought of contracting a virus from a mosquito that could cause major neurological birth defects for my unborn child is very hard to wrap my head around. I feel that something must be done now to help stop these mosquitoes from spreading this dangerous virus in our country. If we don’t find a way to stop it now, then I am afraid we will end up with thousands of babies that have neurological birth defects that will affect them for the rest of their lives. I understand that you have called for a vaccine to be created to solve the future spread of this disease, but a vaccine will not do anything to protect my unborn child or the unborn children of other pregnant women. In the south, it is hard to walk outside and not get bitten by a mosquito in the warmer months. Being that my child is not due until the middle of the summer, I am extremely concerned that by then the virus may have spread and possibly could infect me before I am able to deliver a healthy baby free from neurological or other birth defects as a result of the Zika virus. Mr. President, if I am going to be completely honest with you, if I wasn’t already pregnant, I would think twice about becoming pregnant at all until something is done about this virus. I believe that as a result of your strong push for affordable healthcare for everyone, that you will see the need to make sure something is done about this virus before it is able to spread and possible infect thousands of babies causing permanent, life-long birth defects. I want to thank you for promptly addressing this concern, as I am sure it is a concern for not only myself and my unborn child but also of thousands of other women and families in our country.

Sincerely,

Ashley Young

Read the President’s letter back to Ashley:

Dear Ashley:

Thank you for writing me. Your email reached my desk, and as President and as a father, I want you to know I take your concerns very seriously. My foremost priority is the health and safety of Americans and my Administration is working around the clock to protect you and families across our country.

Most people who become infected with Zika will not even know it because the symptoms are usually nonexistent or mild. However, as you noted, scientists have established a link between Zika infections during pregnancy and poor birth outcomes. Our primary goal is to minimize these outcomes, and early in the year I instructed by staff to do all we can to respond to the Zika threat.

While we are still learning about Zika, we do know there are ways to minimize your risk if it does appear in your community, including protecting yourself from mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves and pants, staying in places with air conditioning and window and door screens, and wearing EPA-registered insect repellants. You can find more information and steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from Zika at www.CDC.gov/Zika. CDC regularly updates this information as we learn more, so I encourage you to check back often.

In the meantime, I have directed my team to accelerate research on new vaccines and methods of detecting the disease. Additionally, I’ve formed a coalition of experts and Federal, State, and local leaders to combat the spread of Zika so that we can identify any outbreaks in the continental United States early and contain them. To make sure our public health officials have the resources needed to prepare and respond to Zika, I’ve asked Congress to approve $1.9 billion in emergency funding to support and advance these efforts as quickly as possible.

.Again, thank you for writing. Your message will remain on my mind.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

Fortunately, Ashley’s baby, Savannah, was born healthy. But the federal government can and should do more to help protect Americans like Ashley. However, Congress went on a 7-week vacation without passing the emergency funding President Obama requested more than 6 months ago — well-ahead of mosquito season.

Failure to pass that emergency funding means less-effective mosquito control efforts, longer wait times for diagnostic results, delayed process in finding a vaccine, and more Americans at risk.

President Obama and his Administration will continue to do everything possible to address the Zika virus.

To learn more about what you can do to help protect you and your family, check out hhs.gov/zika.

Asked and Answered: Can Girls Change The World?

Nearly 100 years ago, bands of dedicated women who had marched and organized for the right to vote finally won a victory on August 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment was certified and the right to vote was secured.

To celebrate Women’s Equality Day and pay tribute to the trailblazers and suffragists who fought for equality for women and girls, we wanted to share a letter exchange between President Obama and three young women.

Delaney, along with her friends Carrigan and Bree, wrote to the President with a problem: some boys in their neighborhood said that “girls cannot change the world.”

Here is the handwritten letter from Delaney and her friends (complete with some pretty cool stickers). 

Dear Mr. President:

Two boys that are in our neighborhood said that girls can not change the world. I hope you can give us some advice to change the world or to help us standup to the two boys.

from,

Delaney, Carrigan, and Bree

Here’s the President’s response to Delaney and her friends:

Dear Delaney:

Thanks for writing to me with your friends to let me know what was going on in your neighborhood. Don’t listen to those boys — girls can change the world, and your letter gave me the sense that you are a strong group of young ladies who will always speak up when things don’t seem right.

In the years ahead, remember that nothing is beyond your reach as long as you set your sights high and stay involved in the issues that matter to you Know that our Nation is one where everyone can pursue their dreams and that with hard work, you can accomplish anything you can imagine. I’m confident all three of you have bright futures ahead — and if any boys tell you otherwise, let them know that their President said they better start recognizing that girls change the world every day.

Your friend,

Barack Obama

Delaney was excited to get the President’s response — here’s what she wrote back:

Dear Mr President

I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the letter. I loved the letter it is the best. I got the package and I had no clue what was inside and when I opened I looked inside and saw the letter and I was so happy and excited that you saw my letter and wrote back that I started to cry. I hope I will get to meet you one day because you inspired me by saying girls change the world every day. So thank you for the letter. Your the best!

Your friend,

Delaney

Asked and Answered: “You Are Already A Good Man”

President Obama offers encouragement to a young veteran who is struggling with transitioning back to civilian life.

Leaving the military can be challenging for many service members. From worrying about their next career steps, to deciding whether to go back to school, to finding a path forward through the mental and physical wounds of war, veterans face a unique set of challenges in navigating their post-military lives.

Patrick Holbrook, a young veteran from Hawaii, wrote to the President about his struggles with these fears. As Patrick says, “I wasn’t afraid in Afghanistan, but I am horrified at the thought of my future.”

When President Obama took office nearly eight years ago, he made a commitment to make sure veterans like Patrick get the care and support they need when transition back to civilian life. And today, we’ve made important progress. We’ve cut veteran homelessness in half. We’re delivering mental health care to more veterans than ever before. More veterans have access to health care and the unemployment rate among veterans has been cut by more than half since its peak in 2011. And in all 50 states, veterans who have recently transitioned out of the military qualify for in-state tuition at public universities. But President Obama knows there’s more work to do to address the challenges that veterans face — and that the task of serving those who have fought for us will never be finished.

You can read Patrick’s letter and the President’s response below. And for more information on mental health resources for veterans, visit VA.gov.

Dear, Mr. President

It’s late in the evening here in Oahu, and the sun will soon be sinking behind the horizon onto the ocean. I sight that gives me comfort when times are confusing, and peace at the end of a long day. Sir, I was injured in Afghanistan in 2011 it was my first deployment, and my last. I was medically retired from the US Army, and after some discussion with my family moved here to help heal the wounds — it is slow in coming, but I remain hopeful. I started college when I arrived here it has been a difficult experience, but this summer God willing; I will be a college graduate. It’s a funny thing fear, I wasn’t afraid in Afghanistan, but I am horrified at the thought of my future. I want to serve my country, make a difference, and live up to the potential my family sees in me. I am scared I think, because I have no plan on what employment to pursue. It is something that is extremely difficult to me, and with my family leaving the island soon; I am truly lost. Sir, all my life I’ve tried to find what a Good man is, and be that man, but I release now life is more difficult for some. I’m not sure where I am going, and it is something that I can not shake. P.S. I watched your final State of the Union, and I thought it was well spoken. I too dream of a sustainable future for the next generation.

Sincerely,

Patrick A. Holbrook

Read the President’s response:

The White House

Washington

Patrick — 

Thank you for your thoughtful letter, and more importantly for your service and sacrifice. I can tell from your letter you are already a good man; you just need to find the calling that will express that goodness — or it will find you. So trust yourself, and remember that your Commander in Chief didn’t know what he would do with his life till he was in his thirties!

Barack Obama

Read more letters from veterans to President Obama, and explore all the letters in the Letters to President Obama archive.

Asked and Answered: Opening Our Hearts to Refugees

We are stronger and more vibrant because of the richness immigrants and refugees bring to our country. Today, the refugee crisis is one of the most urgent tests of our time: 65 million people have been forced to flee their homes by violence, persecution, and instability. Fleeing from countries around the world, refugees carry with them a common hope for leading a safe life with dignity. In honor of the resilience of refugees and the contributions they bring, we’re sharing the story of Heba Hallak, an 18-year-old Syrian refugee.

Last year, Heba wrote to President Obama about what it was like for her and her family to flee from war in Syria. Now living in New Jersey with the support of her family and teachers, Heba is able to continue to attend school and pursue her dream of going to college and becoming a doctor.

Read the handwritten letter from Heba: 

November/21/2015

President Barack Obama

I am a Syrian girl. I am 17. I want to start by my life in Syria.

Before the war, my life was perfect. I used to make a small party with my friends every Friday. I lived in Idleb, in a small Town is called Taftanaz.

My school was good. I liked my friends and my teachers. I was a little child. That made my life perfect.

When the war started, the Syrian army attacked our town. Its tanks destroyed my school and some of my house. I heard much of the sounds of bombing. Because of that, we crossed into Turkey. We found a house and we rented it. There, a Syrian man established a school for all Syrian children. It was very nice choice. I met a lot of girls from other cities of Syria. I learned many things. My little sister suffers from autism, we requested to come here because we could not find choices to go to the Turkish collages. Fortunnately, your organization accepted our request and we did come. America is nice country. People here respect us. The school is good. Your curreculm is easy. I like it. I want to be a dotctor in the future.

The helpings you give us are good. My language is not full yet, but I’m learning. I don’t have any idea about your universities. I need that in order to forget everything I saw in Syria.

I am thankful, I thank you from my heart because everything is nice. My teachers at school here are helpful. They are trying to help me as they can. That makes me better. I’ve loved math. I like the American Pizza and pickle. Very nice food. The most important thing is that I’m free and living in peace with my family.

Best wishes,

Heba Hallak


Here’s the President’s response to Heba:


Dear Heba:

Your letter reached my desk, and I wanted to thank you for writing to share your story with me.

I know it must have been difficult to leave your life behind in Syria and make new friends here, but I am glad to hear you are enjoying school—and the pizza—in the United States. Despite all you have been through, I want you to know that America will always be a place where brave young women like you and your sister can come to learn, thrive, and find a sense of belonging.

The optimism and determination of families like yours are what help set our country apart. I trust you’ll keep working hard in school and reaching for your dreams—as long as you do, I’m confident there are no limits to what you can achieve.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

Helping refugees isn’t just up to governments — every American can play a role. Together, we can welcome refugees and help them rebuild their lives with dignity. At the United Nations in New York City, President Obama hosted a Refugee Summit that brought together world leaders who are stepping up to do more support refugees and help them rebuild their lives. Find out how you can help, too. 

Asked and Answered: President Obama Commemorates Black History Month

“I’ll keep spending every single day in this office and beyond working to make your life better, and to create a brighter future for your boys and for all of our children. That’s a promise.” — President Obama

When President Obama first took office, he asked his staff to send him 10 letters a day. Ten letters that reflect Americans from every corner of the country with every background — the stories, cares, and concerns of the citizens of this country.

He’s continued that practice every day since, reading, responding, and visiting the homes and hometowns of letter writers who have inspired him and his policies. And on this last day of Black History Month and the second anniversary of his My Brother’s Keeper initiative, the President is sharing his response to Gretchen Stewart from Florida.

In the letter below, Gretchen, a public school teacher and mother of two articulates her struggle, one that resonates with many people across the country.

Read Gretchen Stewart’s letter to President Obama:

Dear President Obama,

Everyday, I get about 4–5 hours of sleep. My day starts at 4:45 am when I wake up to read my Bible for a few moments. Then, I make lunch for my 9 year old with Autism. I set the clothes out for my other 9 year old with Down Syndrome. As Black boys in America with special needs, the outcomes say they have a slim to none chance to graduate high school, a good chance of being imprisoned, and a great chance of having a very poor, perhaps homeless, adult quality of life. I don’t focus on it, but it remains the fact for most.

After I finish packing lunches, I sneak into our room (we share a 10x11 room in my grandmothers house) and grab my clothes. I pull my tired little guy from a bed on the floor and dress him in his sleep. I help him to the car, we back out at 5:55 am. I then drive 1 hour to drop him off at a Charter school that serves kids with Autism. I moved to Tampa, Florida for this school. There are so few quality choices for parents with kids with Autism that are the working poor. I am an American public school teacher. I teach 5th grade at a high poverty, nearly all Black, elementary school in Tampa. I work 12–14 hour days and bring work home. My income last week was $1,330.00 for 2 weeks. I hold 2 MAs and have been an award winning urban public education for 17 years. I cannot afford an apartment, let alone a house. I live check to check. People who sell guns make more money.

Teachers in the most challenging schools have very little resources. Last month I had a choice to make, overdraft my bank account or buy supplies for my students. I chose my students, and we ate less at home.

You said we are the most powerful nation in the world. That being true, the state of Education for MOST Americans is unacceptable. Loosing kids to gun violence is horrific, and so is allowing millions of American kids to go from our schools to our prisons. The stratification is growing, rapidly.

We need change for our teachers. Young people don’t what to be teachers out of college. They know teachers are paid terribly, they know it’s a very hard and sometimes even dangerous career. They are turned off in droves to what should be the highest held profession in our nation.

I’d vote you in again if I could. It’s been an honor to be an American while you have been in office. Before you go, please do all you can to improve the state of affairs for American teachers.

Most sincerely,
Gretchen Stewart

And here’s President Obama’s response to Gretchen Stewart:

Dear Gretchen,

I was very moved by your letter. I am who I am today only because I was raised by a strong mother who worked hard and sacrificed to make sure I got a good education. So the first thing I’d say is that your boys are very fortunate to have you.

The concerns you shared are ones I read in a lot of letters, and hear from a lot of folks I meet across the country. Here’s what I want you to know. Every single thing I do as President is aimed at making sure every child in America has the same opportunities this country gave me. A good education. Caring mentors who kept me on the straight and narrow. Safe places to learn and grow. I couldn’t agree more with you that we need to train and support more excellent teachers like you, and pay them what they truly deserve. We’ve got to do more to keep our kids safe from gun violence. We’ve got to do more to close the school-to-prison pipeline. We know that boys and young men of color face some of the toughest odds. That’s why I created the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to make sure that all of our children, no matter their background, have the chance to achieve their dreams.

These aren’t challenges we’ll solve overnight. But over the past seven years, we’ve made progress on creating jobs, making sure more Americans have health insurance, getting graduation rates up, and making sure underprivileged schools have better resources like high-speed internet. High school dropout rates are down, and more young people of color are going to college. We’ve taken action to reduce gun violence and make our communities safer — and I’ve repeatedly called on Congress to do more. And there’s real hope that we can get bipartisan criminal justice reform done this year.

Change takes time. But change is possible. I know how hard it is for so many Americans like you. But Americans like you also fill me with hope. Every day, you give your all to your children, and to your students — never giving up. You’re changing lives and making a difference in your community. That’s how this country has always moved forward. And I’ll keep spending every single day in this office and beyond working to make your life better, and to create a brighter future for your boys and for all of our children. That’s a promise.

Sincerely,
Barack Obama

Asked and Answered: A President for Indian Country

As a candidate visiting the Crow Nation in Montana in May 2008, President Obama pledged to host an annual summit with tribal leaders to ensure that tribal nations have a seat at the table when facing important decisions about their communities. Today, the President hosts the eighth and final Tribal Nations Conference of his Presidency.

We’ve made historic progress to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship and build a more prosperous and resilient Indian Country—helped by countless tribal leaders and youth who have worked alongside the President to make change. One of those leaders is Lindsay Early, a member of the Comanche Tribe who has dedicated her career to lifting up her community, and who wrote the President earlier this year.

Read the letter from Lindsay:

Dear President Obama,

I am a proud enrolled member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma and a recent graduate of the University Of Oklahoma College Of Law. I wanted to take a few moments to thank you for all of the hard work you and First Lady Michelle Obama have done on behalf of Indian Country. As the end of your second term is quickly approaching, I wanted to offer some native insight on just how effective your policies have been in Indian Country.

Like you, I came from very humble beginnings. My single mother did the best she could to raise me. We struggled with many problems that are common to Native Americans; poor healthcare, poverty, lack of access to jobs, and addiction were prevalent in my community. We lived with different relatives and friends, and sometimes even lived in our car. I worked hard and excelled in school, and was fortunate to receive the Gates Millennium Scholarship and went on to become the first in my family to graduate from college. During my freshman year of college, my best friend and I skipped our classes, put on our Barack the Vote tee-shirts, and scrounged up enough gas money to travel four hours to Dallas to go see the promising young Senator from Chicago.

At the rally, we met people of all ages, races, and creeds. Despite our different circumstances, we were all united by the common hope for change and better opportunities. When it was time for you to speak, the crowd grew quiet, anxious to hear your plans for this great country of ours. In the speech, you promised you would always do your best to represent all Americans. When you mentioned plans to represent African Americans, the crowd erupted. When you spoke about the importance of the Latino vote, the crowd once again let out a roaring cheer. Lastly, you mentioned that you would do your best to represent Native Americans. Two little voices screamed as loud as we could from the balcony. You answered back, “I hear you girls, and when I am elected, I won’t forget you!”

We were absolutely ecstatic. You see, President Obama, this was the first time we had ever heard any presidential candidate mention Native Americans. This was the first time any presidential candidate had made us feel that we mattered and our voices were important. You made me feel that through hard work and determination, anyone can achieve the American dream, and you were right.

After law school, I returned home to my tribe and accepted a position advising the Comanche Nation Chairman. My position requires me to keep our tribal leaders apprised of federal policies and proposed legislation regarding water rights, economic development, sovereignty, natural resources, and the Indian Child Welfare Act. Because of this, I know firsthand how your policies have reinvigorated Indian Country and allowed tribes the opportunities to continue working hard to improve the lives of our citizens.

Just as witnessing you speak in Dallas changed the course of my life, your presidency has positively changed how Indian Country interacts with our national decision makers. By vetoing the Keystone Pipeline, you helped us protect our sacred sites. By tackling climate change head on, you have insured that our planet will be safe for generations to come. The passage of the Affordable Care Act provided critical healthcare to members of tribes who otherwise might not be able to afford it. The Tribal Law and Order Act allowed tribes increased jurisdiction to prosecute those that threaten the safety and welfare of our citizens. By speaking out against the Washington football team name, you have reminded us that we deserve the same treatment as any other group in this great nation of ours. The Generation Indigenous initiative has ensured that our Native American youth reach their full potential, teaching them that their contributions are important to this country and that they too are worthy of achieving the American Dream. The White House Tribal Nations Conferences have given tribes what we have so desperately fought for—a seat at the table, a chance for our voices to be heard. I can visibly see and feel the differences in Indian Country in the seven years you have been in office, and for that I want to thank you.

You have managed to do for Native Americans what no president has done before, President Obama. You promised during that speech in Dallas that when you where in office, you wouldn’t forget about us. Thank you for keeping your promise! I am so proud to call you my President. May the Creator continue to bless you and your family, and continue to bless the United States of America.

Sincerely,

Lindsay Early,

United States Citizen and Member of the Comanche Nation

Read President Obama’s response:

Dear Lindsay:

I read the letter you wrote earlier this year, and it meant a lot that you took the time to send it. You’re right that I’ve worked pretty hard to fulfill my campaign promises—I’ve always believed that the success of our tribal communities is tied to the success of America as a whole, and it’s heartening to hear that my Administration’s efforts to build a true nation-to-nation relationship with tribes like yours have made a difference.

It sounds to me like you’ve been working hard to make a difference too, and I trust you take pride in how far you’ve come since your freshman year of college. It’s a tremendous privilege to serve as your President, but far more than my being in Office, I suspect it’s the passion and dedication of folks like you that have truly changed our country for the better.

Thank you for writing, and for everything you’ve put into reaching for the brighter future we all deserve. Voices like yours give me great hope for what’s to come, and I trust you’ll keep at it!

All the best,

President Obama

We’ve come a long way together—but there’s still work to do for Indian Country and for all Americans. Let’s keep moving forward. Tune in to today’s live coverage of the Tribal Nations Conference.

Asked and Answered: President Obama’s 2016 NCAA Basketball Championship Brackets

Happy March Madness! As teams from across the country get their dancing shoes ready, President Obama sat down with ESPN’s Andy Katz to discuss his picks for the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament. Nicknamed “Barack-etology,” filling out brackets for both the men’s and women’s tournament has become an annual tradition at the White House.

Asked and Answered:

In 2015, President Obama correctly predicted that the Connecticut Huskies would be the women’s NCAA basketball champions. However, he didn’t do so well with the men’s bracket — something an eleven-year-old girl from North Carolina pointed out in a letter to the President. “You are a great president, just not the best bracket picker,” Emilia wrote.

Dear President Obama,
My Name is Emilia. I am eleven years old and I live in Charlotte North Carolina. I just wanted to tell you that I saw your 2015 NCAA bracket pick and I beat you. You are a great president, just not the best bracket picker.
Sincerely,
Emilia

Inspired to do better with his 2016 brackets, the President wrote her back. “Your note gave me the sense you’re a talented young lady with some serious potential. Always remember that nothing is beyond your reach as long as you are willing to set your sights high and put your best effort into everything you do. I expect big things—and great brackets—from you in the years ahead,” he wrote. In the hopes that the President would get more than 40 percent of the games right this year, the White House even called Emilia to get her thoughts on the tournament. 

Dear Emilia,

Thanks for your letter about my bracket picks this year. You’re right—when it comes to my basketball bracket, I don’t have the best record!

In addition to helping keep me honest, your note gave me the sense you’re a talented young lady with some serious potential. Always remember that nothing is beyond your reach as long as you are willing to set your sights high and put your best effort into everything you do. I expect big things—and great brackets—from you in the years ahead!

Your friend,

Barack Obama

The President also sent Emilia this signed picture:

Emilia — Next year I’ll check with you first!
Barack Obama

President Obama’s 2016 Picks:

In his men’s bracket, the President has Kansas, Texas A&M, UVA, and UNC headed to the Final Four. To the excitement of many Kansas fans, the President predicts the Jayhawks will win the national title.  

In the women’s tournament, the President anticipates that Connecticut, Florida State, South Carolina, and Notre Dame will reach the Final Four. In the end though, he thinks it will be the UConn Huskies cutting down the nets come April 5. 

Asked and Answered: A Letter Home on Hiroshima

Today, President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on this Japanese city on August 6, 1945.

The world was forever changed here. But today, the children of this city will go through their day in peace. That is precious. That is worth protecting; and granting to every child. That’s the future we can choose — a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare, but as the start of our own moral awakening.

His visit brings an opportunity to reflect on the devastating human toll of war and reaffirm America’s longstanding commitment to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

No one understood that more than the men and women who served on the frontlines of World War II.

When President Obama announced his visit, he received a letter from David Smollar, the son of one such man named Leo — an Army doctor who was eager to see the end of the war and hopeful that the atomic bomb would usher in a much-needed victory.

In his letters home to his wife, he shared those initial hopes, that he and his fellow soldiers could return home soon. But just days after learning of its use, he wrote home again to share his deep concerns about employing such weapons against his fellow man:

There’s something frightening about this new bomb, a weapon that bodes danger for the future … the bomb is not a pleasant weapon to contemplate and mankind’s past performances don’t make me optimistic.

In his letter to the President, David noted that while his father never regretted the use of the bomb, as it allowed so many Americans to come home safely, Leo never forgot the destruction and havoc a thermonuclear bomb could wreak and, for the rest of his life, ardently opposed the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

He would never apologize, but he would say we could never do it again.

The President read David’s letter, and responded today.

Thank you for your very thoughtful note, and for sharing a piece of your family history with me — it sounds like your father was a great man. As he so intimately understood, nuclear weapons pose some of the gravest threats to America and the world.

Read David’s letter and the President’s response below.

David’s note to the President:

My father, an army doctor ticketed for the invasion of Japan, was euphoric upon word of Hiroshima. Yet if alive today, he would applaud President Obama’s decision to visit in pursuit of curbing nuclear weapons. In his first letter home after news reached his Pacific camp, he wrote, “Today is the fantastic news that may signify the end of the war very shortly. It’s almost too good to be true! The description we’ve been given describes a veritable Buck Rogers mechanism of destruction that is capable of destroying any city or nation. Can it be true?” 2 days earlier, on the same day of the bomb, he had written somberly, “The cold facts are that a land invasion of Japan would cost more deaths and wounded than the European war. I’d rather see a continued sea blockade and continuous air bombardment, even for two or three years, rather than tremendous casualties, even though I long for home.” A year of treating Army and civilian wounded int he Pacific had educated him to the degradation of war, where a bullet or mortar had come to symbolize “inanimate metal in which all the sadism of the human animal is expressed.” So his initial joy was unabated: “I believe it to be true. For the first time I feel that the war may end shortly and I hope to God it’s so.” But my father sensed instinctively that bigger issues were afoot. In his next letter, his elation clashed with what he knew were military implications of the atomic age. “There’s something frightening about this new bomb, a weapon that bodes danger for the future, if human beings don’t quit acting like apes. The bomb is not a pleasant weapon to contemplate and mankind’s past performances don’t make me optimistic.” In that letter, he wrote about the “world-revolutionary” possibilities of peaceful atomic use. Indeed, after returning home, he became an early practitioner of nuclear medicine in the 1950s when radionuclides were first used to treat thyroid cancer. My father’s personal history in an atomic world mirrors the nuclear contradictions we face. He never forgot the corrosive aspects of war from combat and what a thermonuclear weapon could wreak. He applied nuclear research as a doctor, yet knew the horrific medical consequences of uncontrolled radiation and ardently opposed nuclear weapons testing and proliferation. But he never regretted the nation’s decision to level Hiroshima. He and thousands of others came home alive and uninjured. He would never apologize, but he would say we could never do it again.

Here are excerpts from Leo’s letters that David sent to President Obama.

Excerpt from first letter dated August 9, 1945:

Aug. 9th, ‘45
Mindanao

My Darling Sweetheart:

Today’s news is the bit war news, the fantastic news that may signify the end of the war very shortly. It’s almost too good to be true. I’m referring to the Atomic Bomb. The description we’ve been given describes a veritable Buck Rogers mechanism of destruction that is capable of destroying with ease any city or nation.

Excerpt from second letter dated August 9, 1945:

What a world-revolutionary development is the practical use of atomic physics! It’s damned fortunate that we were first in its military use and it may — and probably will — be the final all-important factor in ending this war. But it’s not a pleasant weapon to contemplate, almost impossible to grasp its possibilities, the possibilities of practical use of atomic physics. As far as I can see it’s sink or swim, suffering or happiness to mankind; and mankind’s past performances don’t make me too optimistic.

The President’s response to David:

Dear David:

Thank you for your very thoughtful note, and for sharing a piece of your family history with me — it sounds like your father was a great man. As he so intimately understood, nuclear weapons pose some of the gravest threats to America and the world.

My visit to Hiroshima is not to revisit the past, but to affirm that innocent people die in war, on all sides; that we should do everything we can to try to promote peace and dialogue around the world; that we should continue to strive for a world without nuclear weapons.

The United States and Japan remain a strong symbol of how former adversaries can come together out of the ashes of war to become some of the closest allies in the world. That can teach us all a lesson about our ability to overcome our differences and move forward to create a better future for our children and grandchildren. We do that not by ignoring our history, but by understanding it and recognizing it, then committing to do better in the future.

Your father’s words will remain on my mind, and I wish you and your family the very best.

Sincerely,
Barack Obama

Asked and Answered: President Obama Responds to an Eight-Year-Old Girl from Flint

At eight years old, Mari Copeny — known around town as “Little Miss Flint” — wrote to President Obama last month from her home in Flint, Michigan to share how she is working to bring attention to the public health crisis in her community. She also noted that she’s headed the President’s way, and asked if she could meet him during her trip to Washington, D.C.

This week, President Obama wrote back to “Little Miss Flint” with some big news: He’s coming to town. On Wednesday, May 4th, the President will travel to Flint, Michigan where he will hear first-hand from Flint residents like Mari about the public health crisis, receive an in-person briefing on the federal efforts in place to help respond to the needs of the people of Flint, and speak directly with members of the Flint community.

Read Mari’s letter to President Obama, and then check out his reply:

Mari’s letter to President Obama:

Mr. President,

Hello my name is Mari Copeny and I’m 8 years old, I live in Flint, Michigan and I’m more commonly known around town as “Little Miss Flint”. I am one of the children that is effected by this water, and I’ve been doing my best to march in protest and to speak out for all the kids that live here in Flint. This Thursday I will be riding a bus to Washington, D.C. to watch the congressional hearings of our Governor Rick Snyder. I know this is probably an odd request but I would love for a chance to meet you or your wife. My mom said chances are you will be too busy with more important things, but there is a lot of people coming on these buses and even just a meeting from you or your wife would really lift people’s spirits. Thank you for all that do for our country. I look forward to being able to come to Washington and to be able to see Gov. Snyder in person and to be able to be in the city where you live.

Thank You
Mari Copeny

President Obama’s reply to Mari:

The White House
Washington

April 24, 2016

Amariyanna Copeny
Flint, Michigan

Dear Mari:

Thank you for writing to me. You’re right that Presidents are often busy, but the truth is, in America, there is no more important title than citizen. And I am so proud of you for using your voice to speak out on behalf of the children of Flint.

That’s why I want you to be the first to know that I’m coming to visit Flint on May 4th. I want to make sure people like you and your family are receiving the help you need and deserve. Like you, I’ll use my voice to call for change and help lift up your community.

Letters from kids like you are what make me so optimistic for the future. I hope to meet you next week, “Little Miss Flint.”

Sincerely,
Barack Obama

Asked and Answered: “You Too Can Make a Difference”

“Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what’s needed to be done. Today we are called once more — and it is time for our generation to answer that call. For that is our unyielding faith — that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.” — Barack Obama, February 9, 2007

When President Obama took office, he had a simple request for his staff: Send me ten letters a day. Ten letters that reflect what Americans from every corner of the country with every background — the stories, cares, and concerns of the very people who elected him to the presidency.

He’s continued that practice every day since, reading, responding, and visiting the homes and hometowns of letter writers who have inspired him and his policies. And today, as the President heads back to Springfield, Illinois where he began his “improbable quest” to the White House, we wanted to share one letter the President received from a young woman concerned about the state of our politics in America.

In May of last year, Katherine Wiykovics told the President, “I’m afraid.” She feared that our politics had become so broken and so steeped in partisan rancor that the possibility of progress made together — by red states and blue states — was slipping from our grasp. “So I ask you: What can I do?” The President would respond with a handwritten note.

Read her letter, and the President’s response, below.

March 25, 2015

Dear President Barack Obama:

I hope you and your family are doing well despite the trials and tribulations that are guaranteed to be brought on by the presidency. My name is Katherine Wiykovics. I am twenty-six years old and currently a graduate student at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, working on my Master’s in Computer Science that I hope will lead to a PhD in Computer Science as well. Like many of the youth on campus, I like to play video games. I play probably too many games for my own good, mostly those that involve strategy or some sort of puzzle that I have to solve. I like trying to find solutions to problems, and I have a strong belief that with ambition, determination, intelligence, hard work, and courage in the face of adversity, anyone can make it to where they want to be. Not always in the matter they wish, and where they want to be may change along the way as I certainly didn’t expect to go to graduate school when I was younger, but I can happen. Yet all the time, I am faced with a complicated problem that I cannot figure out how to solve, or where to begin.

Increasingly in this country, all over in our own ways, we are divided. You claimed years ago that there were no red states and blue states, but the fact of the matter is surveys have stated that a majority of parents of both Republican and Democratic parties would not be okay with their children marrying someone outside of their political opinions. This sort of thing troubles me greatly, because our policies are now dividing us as much as race or religion has in the past. How are we as Americans supposed to get anything done when compromise is such a dirty word? Compromise does not mean give in, it means to work together and it seems we the people are headed toward a horrid end if this does not stop. I’m afraid, Mr. President. I am one who is not swayed so easily by emotion in my politics, but in facts and the facts are that we cannot have a country divided and have a stable government.

So I ask you: What can I do? I want to do something beyond just signing some random online petition that always seems to get nowhere. I want a government that works, I don’t want to worry about a shutdown anymore. I don’t want to watch more and more people become disinterested in politics because nothing can be done to fix things. I want to see unafraid voices stand not for political but for reason. It is often said that those who play video games heavily do so because there is little agency in their own lives, that they play in order to feel like they can accomplish something. It is my reason, I can do so much more to save fake worlds, fake nations, than my own. Tell me, how can we begin to unite people in compromise? I mean, if we can’t do it, that means I’m in trouble as my boyfriend is from a very Republican family, and I’m from a very Democratic one. My parents like him, but I don’t know if his will like me.

Sincerely,

Ms. Katherine Rose Wiykovics

This is the President’s response:

Katherine —

Thanks for the letter. You seem like a wonderful young lady.

I know politics seem frustrating sometimes. But despite all the rancor you see on TV, people are making a difference everyday in every corner of the country. So find an issue care about, and volunteer — you’ll meet people that inspire you, and find that you too can make a difference.

And don’t worry about political party when it comes to boyfriends; just make sure he’s kind, loves kids, makes you laugh, and is honest!

Barack Obama

Despite every challenge, the progress made over the past seven years proves that the single most powerful word in our democracy is “we.”

As the President said in the State of the Union:

“My fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, whether you supported my agenda or fought as hard as you could against it — our collective futures depends on your willingness to uphold your duties as a citizen. To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us. We need every American to stay active in our public life — and not just during election time — so that our public life reflects the goodness and the decency that I see in the American people every single day.”

Asked and Answered: “Rural communities are the backbone of our Nation”

President Obama responds to a young woman from Illinois who shared concerns about the challenges still facing her rural hometown.

As President Obama has said, “The values that drive our small towns and rural communities are the same ones that drive America as a whole…At the same time, what’s also true is that when our country is tested, our rural communities are tested as well.”

A young woman from one such rural community, Chloe Carson, wrote to the President about the challenges that still plague her hometown —like falling crop prices, unemployment, and poor education. Today, the President responded to her.

In 2011, the President established the White House Rural Council, and over the course of the Administration — significant progress has been made across rural America: Household income climbed 3.4 percent in 2015, while poverty and food insecurity fell dramatically. Non-metro areas have added more than 250,000 jobs since 2014, while the share of rural Americans without health insurance is now at an all-time low.

But there is more work to do, and these topics, along with new actions, were all discussed at the White House Rural Forum, a convening of rural policy, business, and nonprofit leaders at Penn State University.

You can read both letters below:

Dear Mr. President,

I admire you. The decision to become the president and take responsibility for an entire country requires courage far greater than I could muster. However, I have a few questions as to some of the problems in our country. I live in a rural community where half of the town’s population are farmers and the other half commutes to a city half an hour away or more. Our community offers many pros, but also many cons such as unemployment and poor education. How do you plan to fix these problems?

My family has been in farming for years. When I was young, I watched my father and grandfather work from before the sun came up to after I went to bed in order to provide our family with an income. Now, grain prices are dropping so low that farmers across the nation are beginning to question whether they will be able to make a profit. America produces food and products to be shipped around the world, yet often in our own small towns, many cannot even make a proper living without federal assistance.

As in many rural areas, the school system could be described as less than stellar. Our teachers are all dedicated to bringing us an education, but lack of funding continually diminishes their numbers and the classes available. When students in an area with few opportunities do not receive a proper education, they are unprepared for college. Students that do poorly in college or are unable to attend often have dilemmas when applying for jobs. Thus, the cycle of unemployment continues.

During your presidency you have been busy with controversial topics such as gun control, refugees, and health insurance, but what do you plan to do about the above addressed issues? The problems that affect the average men and women who form the backbone of America and work hard every day in our struggling workforce. What can we do to help the children who will grow up and take the place of their parents? We must fix these problems first Mr. President if we wish to maintain the United States of America.

Respectfully,

Chloe Carson

The President’s response to Chloe:

Dear Chloe,

Thank you for writing. Your note reached my desk, and I recognize the struggles your community is going through.

You’re right that rural communities are the backbone of our Nation, and I assure you I will continue to fight for investment in places like . I agree that a brighter future for rural America means guaranteeing every child has access to a world-class education. It also means creating more jobs, empowering workers with the skills they need to do those jobs, and building more ladders of opportunity into the middle class for anyone who is willing to work hard to climb them — no matter where they live. I hope you know that voices like yours are critical to this conversation because there is a lot more to do.

My Administration is pushing for rural schools to get the funding they need to support education worthy of their students. We are working to fight rural poverty, expand broadband access, and empower local businesses and communities so rural economies can more easily get back on their feet. We have also implemented the 2014 Farm Bill in record time so that we could expand and strengthen the farm safety net. At a time when our economy is growing, we need to make sure every American shares in that growth. And as long I hold this Office, I’ll keep doing everything I can to make that vision real.

Thank you for speaking out — it’s clear you care deeply for your community, and your passion for these issues will remain on my mind as I strive to ensure all Americans have a fair shot at the American dream.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

Asked and Answered: Sending Direct Mail to Cuba for the First Time in 50 Years

An American president has not traveled to Cuba in almost 90 years. But on March 20, President Obama will become the first president to set foot on the island country that’s only 90 miles off the coast of Florida. The visit is a historic milestone after more than a year of progress from the day in December of 2014 when the President first announced he was abandoning a failed, Cold War-era approach to Cuba in favor of a new course to normalize relations.

Since then, we’ve restored non-stop flights between our two countries. We’ve helped facilitate more people-to-people interaction and commercial enterprise. We’ve allowed U.S. dollars to be used in more financial transactions with Cuba. And today, we’re restoring direct mail for the first time in 50 years.

The first flight carrying that first batch of U.S. direct mail to Cuba took off yesterday – a development that may please Ileana Yarza, a 76-year-old letter writer in Cuba who has been waiting for the President to visit for years. “I think there are not many Cubans so eager as I to meet you in person,” she wrote on February 18. “Not as an important American personality, but as a charming president whose open smile wins hearts.”

Yesterday’s flight carried a personal response from President Obama to Ileana, which will reach the island before he touches down in Havana on Sunday.

View Ileana’s letter and the President’s response here:

Mr President,

I heard last night by telesur – not the Cuban broadcast news – that you will visit Havana in March. I could not be happier to hear this.

An American president finally taking this so much needed step, the second best one after your open admittance that the over half a century cruel embargo on this lovely, enduring and resilient little island just did not work. We Cubans believe it’s a black page on American history and geopolitics. Very sorry to say this…

Dear President Obama: I’ve followed your political career since you were running for office the first time. Then I drank to your victory at/with the CNBC Havana office that glorious night. I also celebrated your second term election with friends at home. I wish there would be a third, perhaps one day…

I’ve written you many times introducing myself. Also I have invited you to a cup of Cuban coffee at my place in Vedado, if and when you would finally come.

Please, please, do visit me. Give this 76 year old Cuban lady the gift of meeting you personally. I think there are not many Cubans so eager as I to meet you in person not as an important American personality but as a charming president whose open smile wins hearts.

Please understand I very much look forward to it.

I would also love for you to come with your wonderful, lovely wife.

God bless you son, also bless your family.

Ileana R. Yarza

And check out President Obama’s response:

Dear Ileana:

Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate your support over the years, and I hope this note – which will reach you by way of the first direct mail flight between the United States and Cuba in over 50 years – serves as a reminder of a bright new chapter in the relationship between our two nations.

I am looking forward to visiting Havana to foster this relationship and highlight our shared values – and, hopefully, I will have time to enjoy a cup of Cuban coffee.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

The types of mail that customers in the United States can send to Cuba include First-Class Mail International items, First-Class Package International Service items, Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes and Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Priced Boxes.

Employees at the United States Postal Service shared in a moment of excitement as they prepared to send the letter on its way. “I’ve worked for the Postal Service for 27 years, and this has been my goal for 26 years,” one employee shared. “So this is a pretty big day for me.”

To learn more about the President’s Cuba policy and why he’s headed down to Havana, check out what the President’s Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes has to say about it here.