President Barack Obama has officially visited all 50 states after traveling to South Dakota on Friday. While the visit adds him to an elite club (Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton are the only other presidents to have done the same), it also marked an unforgettable moment for one local girl.
The President, who was in Watertown, South Dakota, to deliver the commencement address at Lake Area Technical Institute community college, also visited with 11-year-old Rebecca Kelley, who sent a letter to the White House asking him to make the trip.
Kelley, who’s letter featured a drawing of a broken heart, said she didn’t expect to hear back from Obama, according to South Dakota local news station KELOLAND.
In the handwritten note, shared by the White House’s official Twitter account, Kelley implored the president to come to the Midwestern state. “We are the warmest of the Dakotas, we have Mt. Rushmore, and when I just go to the park I sometimes see coyotes, hawks, and bald eagles,” she wrote.
Kelley’s father received a call on Thursday to expect a written response, so the little girl was more than surprised when she instead met Obama in person.
“I got to shake his hand and it was just so amazing,” Kelley, who was also gifted a medal, and chocolate by the President, told KELOLAND. “I want to say thank you so much. There are no words to describe my joy. There’s just none.” “
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Obama’s trip, which marks the first visit to the small eastern South Dakota community by a U.S. president, came with a warm welcome from residents. Nearly 350 flags were hung around the city, and residents were given free flags to wave for Obama’s arrival, according to the New York Times.
I have now been to all 50 states as president – and I was saving the best for last, he told the 720 graduates and their guests, reported the Times. To the other 49, I hope you take no offense.