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Former President Barack Obama to get state holiday

Former President Barack Obama to get state holiday
Barack Obama (Photo source: Twitter – @barackobama)

The state of Illinois has voted to recognize former President Barack Obama with a state holiday.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed “Barack Obama Day” into law on Friday, NBC Chicago reports. The newest state holiday will be celebrated across Illinois on Aug. 4 (Obama’s birthday) every year, starting in 2018.

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 reads.

And as the news station notes, although several lawmakers abstained from voting on the measure, it passed both houses without a single vote against it.

The bill was originally stalled after some lawmakers had concerns about Obama’s birthday being celebrated as a legal state holiday — during which schools and state offices would close, while banks and other businesses could close but did not have to — when other Illinois presidents, like Ronald Reagan, did not have commemorative days requiring state closure.

And of course, Republicans — Rauner included — pointed at the economic cost of closing state buildings on the holiday and the impact of having the day off.

“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 said back 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.”

So now Barack Obama Day will join the other commemorative days, including Ronald Reagan Day, for which workplaces do not close. But it is a source of pride for millions of urbanites and Obama supporters worldwide.

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