Dear Mr. President: Letters to the Oval Office from the Files of the National Archives – written by Dwight Young, with an introduction by Brian Williams
National Geographic, 2005

This has been an exhausting day.  I came across a wonderful book for middle-grade students and older which offers both information and inspiration.  Dear Mr. President is a collection of letters from a variety of people, children as well as adults, all found in the collection of our National Archives. It has both detailed text providing background for each letter, and copious photographs. If you feel concerned that your children or students may have forgotten what it means for Americans and those from other countries to address the President of the United States with respect, despair, or hope, and to expect that he or she will listen, this book is a good resource.  There is young Anthony Ferreira writing to President Ford: “I think you are half right and half wrong.” There is telegram from J. B. Manual to President Franklin Roosevelt declaring that “Just heard your speech it cheered me up received notice today that my son was killed in the service of the United States at Pearl Harbor December 7th.” There are letters which echo my own beliefs and ones with which I profoundly disagree.

While a collection such as this requires other primary and secondary sources to give readers a more complete view of the presidency and of our imperfect but still noble democracy, it still stands as a moving statement about what it means to communicate with a President of the United States and expect a rational reception or response.  Today, we saw the virtual collapse of our democratic system. We still have our history, and a great number of dedicated public servants, and at least a large segment of the American people who will work to bring it back. Here are some links to just a few of my previous posts about democracy, patriotism, and history:

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