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Obama's apology letter to his daughters: Why he ran for president

world Updated: Jan 15, 2009 12:10 IST

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US president elect Barack Obama has often apologised to his two young daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, for being away from them during his two years of campaigning.

In a letter to the kids published on Wednesday by Parade magazine, the doting father says his inspiration to run came from them from his wish to secure their future and that of other children in America.

Obama will be inaugurated as the first African American president in US history on Tuesday.

The following are some excerpts from the letter, in which he also makes reference to the promise of a puppy when they move into the White House: "I know that you have both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably should not have let you have.

"But I also know that it has not always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it does not make up for all the time we have been apart. I know how much I've missed these past two years, and on Thursday I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.

"When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me about how I'd make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day.

"And suddenly, all my big plans for myself did not seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life would not count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfilment in yours. In the end, girls, that's why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation."

Obama talks about enhancing educational opportunities for children to enable them to get better jobs. He also refers to exploring new technologies and breaking down the barriers of discrimination ensuring that the military is never used without justification and working to improve the country.

"I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you have had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much although you do have that obligation. But because you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.

"I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humour as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.

"Love, Dad."