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Letters About Literature National Winners 2009

Honorable Mentions, Level 2: Jared Dauman

Dear President-Elect Obama,

Congratulations on your recent victory to become the 44th president and the first African American leader of the United States of America. However, it recently occurred to me that I had never heard of you before the 2009 presidential election. I had no idea what path you took to achieve this amazing goal. I decided to ask my parents, and they suggested I listen to the speech you gave at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Apparently, they knew almost nothing about you before that speech, but told me it “put you on the map.” I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, so I listened to your speech on You Tube and read the transcript several times. Then I got a much better understanding of who you were as a person and as a leader. And it began with your words, “Let face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely.” Your story inspired me by showing how far you’ve come from where you began.

One thing that really struck me in your speech was that you are a living example of the American Dream. I was surprised to learn your father was a poor immigrant and that you had very little as a child. I realized that all of your achievements are the result of hard work and determination. Your story proved to me that anyone can achieve success if they work hard enough. When you explain this in your speech, it stuck with me more than if anyone else had said it. That’s because you, President-Elect Obama, are someone who actually had to overcome many obstacles, including racial prejudice, to reach your goals. That is the American Dream and the reason my grandparents and so many other immigrants came to this country.

Your speech made me truly believe that I can achieve my goals by approaching life and people in a positive way. This is evidence by your words, “There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. We are one people all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes.” Others may make statements like this, but you didn’t just “talk the talk.” You “walked the walk” four years later by running a positive campaign in the 2008 election. You stayed calm and focused, and tried to stick to the issues, rather than making personal attacks on your opponents. Your positive words and results proved to me that you don’t need to be negative or bullying to get what and where you want in life. After all, your approach got you elected to one of the most powerful positions in the world!

Your speech in the 2004 Democratic National Convention affected me in many ways. It showed me that the American Dream is possible in almost any circumstance and that people should have a positive approach in life. I was taught this not only by the words in your speech, but more importantly by the example you set in the real world. Your achievement gives me hope that we may someday be able to put an end to racism. I am excited to see that you will accomplish in your presidency.

Jared Dauman