Presidential Volunteer Service Award recipient thanks Obama, Servant-in-Chief

Presidential Volunteer Service Award recipient thanks Obama, Servant-in-Chief
obama letter

George Payne’s 2010 President’s Volunteer Service Award. Presented by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.*


George Payne

A graduate of the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, George Payne teaches philosophy at Finger Lakes Community College and is the founder of Gandhi Earth Keepers International.

Thank you, Mr. President: A Tribute to Barack Obama as Servant-in-Chief

Thank you, Mr. President. For the past decade you have fostered my love for social justice based community service. You have modeled at the highest level what it looks like to serve the common good with charm, prudence, and durability. Because of your legacy of leadership I am a more dedicated servant than I was before.

And what a legacy it was. With more than one true birthplace, you became a dashing yet humble messenger of peace and prosperity for the entire globe. You showed us how to guard against cynicism. You showed us how to hitch our wagons to something bigger than ourselves. You showed us time and again that you will be right there with us, and out of all the decisions we have made as a young nation struggling to be morally civilized, you may be our best one yet.

In the end, you gave us more than a creed. You gave us a powerful reason to believe in change. By investing in the infrastructure of civic education — and by mitigating against the malevolent forces of racism, nationalism, corporatism, and imperialism — you showed us how to make the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu come alive in the conflict laden theater of daily life: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

Today, America is a better, stronger nation than when we started this revolution of hope back in 2008. You gave us a common purpose to strive towards, and you gave us a politics that reflects the decency of people.

Thank you, Mr. President. You will be more than missed.

*The letter will always be one of my most cherished honors.


Dear George:

Thank you for writing.  Serving as President has been the greatest privilege of my life, and messages like yours have motivated and informed me along the way.  We should be proud of what we have accomplished together.

Through trial and triumph, America has always overcome challenges and emerged stronger because we’ve come together as one people.  And our progress depends on folks like you who speak out on issues that matter to them.  I look forward to standing alongside you as a private citizen, working to ensure our Nation lives up to our highest ideals as a beacon of hope and opportunity.

Barack Obama


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At a seat from the President’s table two years later

A seat at the President’s table three years later

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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