Barack Obama read 10 letters from Americans every day during his presidency, and it made all the difference
Former US President Barack Obama first started responding to citizens' letters when he was still a senator
Former President Barack Obama used to read at least 10 letters from American citizens every evening during his time in the White House, according to reports. The revelation was made in a new book titled 'To Obama: With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope' by Jeanne Marie Laskas.
Obama, who is the first American president to take on a task of reading letters daily, reveals in the book why he did so and why he also responded to those letters.
"Ten a day is what I figured I could do. It was a small gesture, I thought, at least to resist the bubble. It was a way for me to, every day, remember that what I was doing was not about me. It wasn’t about the Washington calculus. It wasn’t about the political scoreboard. It was about the people who were out there living their lives who were either looking for some help or angry about how I was screwing something up," Obama said. Reports state that he first started responding to citizens' letters when he was still a senator.
"And I, maybe, didn’t understand when I first started the practice how meaningful it would end up being to me,” he added, according to PEOPLE.
Laskas' book reveals that Obama received a range of letters when he was president and that some of them were supportive, some wanted to request for help and share their life's sories while others were written against the president and his policies.
According to the book, the Office of Presidential Correspondence required “fifty staff members, thirty-six interns, and a rotating roster of three hundred volunteers to keep up with about ten thousand letters and messages every day.”
Laskas explained that the staff members had to go through the letters every day and gave the 10 best ones to Obama.
Obama told Laskas: "There have been recurring letters and, in that category, I would say are veterans looking for help, young people with heavy student loan debt trying to figure out whether they qualify for some relief, military personnel or military families who are struggling in some fashion with either a decision or a lack of help from the Department of Defense."
Obama, in the book, also recalled one of his favorite memories associated with the letters. The former president said that he had met a woman once who greeted with a "big hug," as she explained that she had written a letter to his officer when her husband was serving in the military and suffering from PTSD.
"You had the VA (United States Department of Veterans Affairs) call us directly, and that’s what prompted him to get treatment," the woman told Obama.
"That’s when you’re reminded that there’s something about this office that, when people get a response, they feel that their lives and concerns are important," Obama said in the book. "And that can change in some small way, and maybe occasionally in big ways, how they view their lives.”
The book also states that Obama once also corrected a little boy's homework upon his request, writing to the young Kenny Jops: "Nice job on the homework. I caught only two words misspelled on the vocabulary list. Dream big dreams.”
According to the book, the former president also wrote notes on and shared some letters which saddened him, asking his staff how they could bring about a policy change to make things better.
"If there was a letter that particularly moved me, jolted me, saddened me, I got in the habit of asking people to circulate it. So that everyone could take a look at it," Obama said, according to the book.