By Katie Reilly
January 19, 2017

President Barack Obama published a thank you letter to the American people on Thursday, his last day in office, encouraging them to stay active in democracy and promising to “be right there with you every step of the way.”

“Before I leave my note for our 45th president, I wanted to say one final thank you for the honor of serving as your 44th. Because all that I’ve learned in my time in office, I’ve learned from you,” Obama wrote. “You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.”

Obama has spent the past couple of weeks delivering the final message of his presidency, giving a farewell address from Chicago last week and speaking at his final White House press conference on Wednesday, signing off with the same notes of hope and optimism that launched his presidency.

“I’ve seen you, the American people, in all your decency, determination, good humor, and kindness. And in your daily acts of citizenship, I’ve seen our future unfolding,” he said. “All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into that work — the joyous work of citizenship. Not just when there’s an election, not just when our own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. I’ll be right there with you every step of the way.”

Obama will attend the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump with Michelle Obama on Friday.

“And when the arc of progress seems slow, remember: America is not the project of any one person,” Obama wrote. “The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘We.’ ‘We the People.’ ‘We shall overcome.’ Yes, we can.”

Read Obama’s complete letter here:

Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com.

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