Politics
Politics

Illinois Governor Declares 'Barack Obama Day' (Photos)

| by David Bonner

For his 56th birthday, former President Barack Obama was given his very own holiday.

On Aug. 4, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law a measure designating that date as "Barack Obama Day" across the state, reports WMAQ in Chicago.

Beginning in 2018, the holiday will be celebrated each year on Obama's birthday.

Mr. Obama now joins Illinois luminaries Adlai Stevenson, Jane Addams, and former President Ronald Reagan -- each of whom have days named after them in that state.

According to Senate Bill 55, the holiday will be "observed throughout the State as a day set apart to honor the 44th President of the United States of America who began his career serving the People of Illinois in both the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate, and dedicated his life to protecting the rights of Americans and building bridges across communities."  

The bill passed both houses earlier this year without any votes against, though several lawmakers did abstain.

SB 55 was introduced by Sen. Emil Jones III, the son of former Senate President Emil Jones Jr., who helped launch then-state Senator Obama's successful 2004 campaign for U.S. Senate.  

Illinois Democrats tried to make Mr. Obama’s birthday a legal state holiday -- during which schools and state offices would close, while banks and businesses could close, but would not be required to -- but Ronald Reagan Day is not a legal state holiday, so Republicans, including Rauner, were against it.

"It's incredibly proud for Illinois that the president came from Illinois. I think it's awesome, and I think we should celebrate it," Rauner told reporters in February. "I don't think it should be a formal holiday with paid, forced time off, but I think it should be a day of acknowledgment and celebration."

Mr. Obama is also getting a stretch of highway named after him. In July, Illinois legislators voted to rename part of Interstate 55 the "Barack Obama Presidential Expressway."

In addition to having a holiday and a highway named after him, he received some ordinary birthday gifts, too.

On Twitter, wife Michelle Obama posted two throwback pictures showing her husband celebrating his 49th birthday in 2010, with daughters Malia and Sasha helping blow out the candles on his birthday cake.

Former Vice President Joseph Biden also took to social media, re-posting a garden photo of the pair laughing that Mr. Obama had originally sent to Biden on his 70th birthday in 2012.

Biden's message to Mr. Obama: "Your service has been a great gift to the country, and your friendship and brotherhood are a great gift to me. Happy birthday."

Sources: WMAQ, Daily Mail / Featured Image: Obama White House/Flickr / Embedded Images: AFP/Getty Images via Daily Mail, Twitter via Daily Mail (2)

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