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A Letter To My Sons Tomas And Pablo The Day After The Election

It was such a pleasure to be in touch with you yesterday night as the returns from the election came in. I know how important this election was for you, the first in which you could vote.

To your immigrant parents, watching your participation as citizens is a source of great joy. I remember when Tomas’ first grade teacher invited me to her class to explain to your classmates why I had become a citizen. I explained to that group of first graders that I had done so because I felt it necessary to participate in the political process, to have a voice to help improve this country which had been so good to me and to your mother. You know with how much excitement your mother and I prepared to become citizens, and how grateful we were that the judge that led the swearing ceremony of your mother’s naturalization invited Tomas to join him in leading the entire group of new Americans that bright morning at the Kennedy Memorial library, into the oath of allegiance.

I will carry forever the memory of my 8-year-old son leading us in the pledge, as Mom and I held the hand of 6-year-old Pablo, in that beautiful hall, against the background of Old Glory and of Boston Harbor as an expression of the love and the hopes that brought us to become citizens. Love for you, for this country, for those around us that morning and for the many who have been so generous to us. Hope that together we might contribute to making this a more perfect union, a country that lives to the aspirations on which it was founded to be one nation, indivisible, with justice and liberty for all.

In the years since that beautiful morning I have been blessed to watch you grow into two good men, with the interest and the skills to improve the communities of which you are a part. I remember your own first engagement in politics, when Pablo asked me about a fundraising letter I had received from John Kerry, and decided that he was going to make a contribution, devoting the equivalent of six weeks of his allowance in hopes Kerry would help advance the wishes Pablo expressed in his letter to improve the schools for all children. I remember Tomas’ letter accompanying his own contribution, advising Kerry to use his money wisely and conveying that he was using money from his own allowance to help him get elected. I remember that you stayed up late the night of the election, and one of you asked, when the results were known and it was clear that our candidate had not been elected, “Are we going to be okay, Dad?” and I assured you that we would be OK because our ability to help advance the American dream was not for others to give us, but for us to seize.

I am sorry that this last campaign, the first one in which you could vote, has been so divisive, and that the now president-elect chose to use a narrative that undermined the notion that we are all one people, that our common interests are much greater than our differences, and that this land is big enough for all of us, and that in recognizing and appreciating our differences, we can do much more together to advance this nation, than we could ever do apart.

Through the rules of our democratic process, President-elect Trump was elected and he is now our president, the president of all Americans, those who voted for him and those who did not. As you know I had hoped that Hillary Clinton would have been elected. I thought she was the most qualified of both candidates. I was drawn by her campaign of inclusion and opportunities for all. I would have loved to see this country, finally, elect a woman as a president. Alas, this did not happen.

It is now our duty to do what is within our power to help the government he will lead advance to make this a more perfect union. We will do this the way we have always done it, looking for ways in which we, as ordinary citizens, can contribute to improve the communities of which we are a part. The first thing I did this morning as I came into work was to talk to colleagues in the Department of Higher Education about ways in which we could help advance the civic mission of our universities in the state as it is clearer than ever to me how critical this is to the future of our democracy.

We should all reach out to and seek to understand those who supported the president-elect, and look for common ground to help us advance opportunities for all in this country. We should especially continue to do what we must to make this one nation with justice and liberty for all. To your immigrant father, nothing is more important than knowing that you continue to do what is within your power to help improve the communities of which you are a part, to help make this a country better, to help it live to its promise. Your immigrant parents will remain undaunted by the bigots who have questioned the role of immigrants in America for we know that our ability to help advance the American dream, and your ability as children of immigrants to do the same, is not for others to give us, but for us to seize.

With love,

Your father