August 4 is Barack Obama’s birthday, and starting this year, it will double as a commemorative holiday for the 44th president. It is a commemorative holiday rather than a state holiday, meaning that schools and government workplaces will stay open.
The hashtag #ObamaDay has been trending for a majority of the day, with Twitter users posting memes and tributes to Obama and his time at the White House. “Happy birthday Mr. President,” wrote one user. “God you are missed, your kindness, integrity, generosity, civility and plane class is something we are sorely missing today happy birthday and God bless you & the United States.”
Another tweeted: “Happy #ObamaDay folks! We should all take time today to remember the level of integrity and compassion #BarackObama governed this great country with!” Check out additional tributes below.
Others took a more light-hearted approach, and paid tribute to Obama through a series of gifs and memes. There have also been some celebrities who’ve gotten in on the fun, including R&B singer John Legend and filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry.
In 2017, Illinois State Representatives André Thapedi and Sonya Harper introduced a bill to designate Barack Obama Day as a state holiday. The original proposal was to make Obama Day a state holiday, with schools and state offices being closed for the day, but it was rejected by the house, who cited expense and the fact that other presidents from Illinois, like Ronald Reagan, do not have a similar honor.
Months later, State Senator Emil Jones III introduced Illinois Senate Bill 55, which designated August 4 as Barack Obama Day but did not attempt to make it an official holiday. The bill passed both houses of the Illinois General Assembly and was signed on August 4, 2017. The section pertaining to Obama Day reads as follows:
Barack Obama Day. August 4th of each year is designated as Barack Obama Day, to 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.
Gov. Bruce Rauner, who signed the bill into law, talked to The Hill about the importance of honoring the former president. “It’s incredibly proud for Illinois that the president came from Illinois. I think it’s awesome, and I think we should celebrate it,” he said. “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.”
Obama’s Vice President, Joe Biden, also paid tribute to the 44th President by posting a photo on the two of them on Twitter. The photo was taken last week when the pair stopped to have lunch at a Georgetown bakery.
“Our lunches together were a highlight of every week at the White House,” Biden wrote. “Last week’s trip to Dog Tag Bakery was no different. Happy birthday to my brother, my friend, Barack Obama.”