Saturday is not only former president Barack Obama’s birthday — his 57th — in his adopted home state of Illinois. It’s also Barack Obama Day.
It’s not a full-scale state holiday, in the sense of shuttering public offices and banks (a bill attempting to do that failed in the face of the argument that it could cost the state $20 million a year), but a day of commemoration.
The Obama day, being marked for the first time Saturday, was created by the Democrat-led state legislature in Springfield, passing unanimously, and signed into law last August by Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican now in a battle for political survival against Democratic gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker, his fellow billionaire. Rauner in 2017 called it “awesome” that the 44th president was an Illinoisan, though born in Hawaii, meriting annual commemoration by the state.
From the text of the legislation:
‘[Aug. 4 is to be] 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.’
A spokeswoman for Obama, according to a USA Today report, said the former president planned to celebrate his birthday Saturday with a family dinner in Washington, where the Obama family has remained at least until younger daughter Sasha finishes high school. The family has maintained its home in the Kenwood neighborhood — near the University of Chicago, where both the former president and former first lady Michelle Obama, a native Chicagoan, were previously employed — on Chicago’s south side.