On Sunday, President Elect Obama published the letter below to
Illinois citizens as he undertakes the transition to become our 44th President
on January 20th. We appreciate his service to our State and his attention
particularly to the affairs of our Veterans.

It was on May 20th of 2005 that Senators Obama and Durbin came
to Wright College to hold a Veterans Town Hall Summit with Veteran’s Affairs
Secretary Jim Nicholson. It was my pleasure to greet the Senators that day and
for Eli’s to serve our cheesecake to all participants.

 

Obama’s Letter to Illinois
Newspapers–published in Illinois newspapers on Sunday, November 16,
2008

 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.