19:09 GMT +315 October 2019
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    In this Jan. 10, 2017, photo, President Barack Obama speaks during his farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago

    Happy Birthday Mr. President: 'Barack Obama Day' Now an Illinois Holiday

    © AP Photo / Martinez Monsivais
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    Former US President Barack Obama has received a unique birthday present from his adopted home state, a holiday in his name.

    Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed the measure into law on Friday designating August 4, the 44th US president's birthday, as "Barack Obama Day" in the the Prairie State.

    The Obama state holiday will be celebrated annually beginning in 2018, according to Nbcchicago.com.

    The Obama birthday 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," according to the reading of Illinois Senate Bill 55.

    Several lawmakers abstained from voting for the honorific, although there were no votes against.

    Introduced by Illinois state Senator Emil Jones III, himself the son of former Senate President Emil Jones, Jr. — who contributed significantly to elevating then-state Senator Obama to the US Senate in 2004 — the SB 55 measure is thought to be a gift from the elder Jones, who, according to reports, considers himself to be Obama's political "godfather," cited by Nbcchicago.com.

    "Barack Obama Day" will not require businesses and government offices to close, but schools and other institutions are encouraged to commemorate the occasion in the state that also brought the country Abraham Lincoln.

    Lawmakers in the state also voted in July to rename part of a heavily-traveled Chicago roadway after Obama, designating a stretch of Interstate 55 as the "Barack Obama Presidential Expressway."

    It is hoped that Republican lawmakers will not set up roadblocks on that right of way as well.


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