barack obama 2007Last week, we celebrated the 15-year anniversary of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign announcement, which took place right here in Springfield. On Feb. 10, 2007, Obama announced his presidential campaign at the Old state Capitol Building, and he went on to become the first African American president in American history.

Fifteen years later, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Old State Capitol Foundation announced plans to place a historical marker on the Old State Capitol Lawn to commemorate Obama’s historic moment.

A year and a half after his presidential campaign announcement, Obama returned to the Old State Capitol to announce then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, would be running alongside him. Like his previous announcement, this gained international attention.

On Nov. 4, 2008, Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. Prior to becoming president, Obama was a U.S. Senator representing Illinois.

 “[Lincoln] chose to announce his candidacy at the Old State Capitol because of its historic ties to Abraham Lincoln, but he was also making history himself,” said David Joens, president of the Old State Capitol Foundation. “That history needs to be recognized, and a permanent marker will do that.” Obama took a historic place and increased its historic significance. 

The historic marker has been completed and will be put into place later this year.

Abraham LincolnFeb. 12 is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Lincoln is a historical figure not only in Illinois, but across the country. Today, on what would have been his 213th birthday, we celebrate his impact.

Lincoln was born in 1809 to Nancy Hanks Lincoln and Thomas Lincoln and was one of three children. In 1830, Lincoln and his family moved to Illinois, near Decatur from present-day Gentryville, Indiana.

In 1834, Lincoln joined the Illinois General Assembly, representing Sangamon County as a member of the Whig Party. Two years later, Lincoln received his license to practice law. He became a firm partner to John Todd, who was a cousin to Lincoln’s future wife, Mary Todd. Lincoln married Mary Todd in 1842 and the following year, Mary gave birth to their first son, Robert Todd Lincoln. Shortly after, Lincoln bought his first home and opened his own law practice in Springfield. In 1846, Lincoln was elected into the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1860, Lincoln was selected to represent the Republican National Convention in the 1860 Presidential election. On March 4, 1861 Lincoln was inaugurated into office as the 16th president of the United States. The following year, he issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, and the final version was issued in 1863. Later that year, after the Union won the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address. This speech became one of the most important speeches in American history.

On April 15, 1865, just days after the end of the civil war, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre. Over 150 years after his death, his legacy continues to live on. His home and tomb are located in Springfield as National Historic Sites. Lincoln home is open to the public to visit daily between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. More information can be found here. For more information on visiting the Lincoln tomb read here.

photo of women doing physical activityToday is National Girls and Women in Sports Day. It first began in 1987 with a purpose to express an appreciation for the presence of womanhood in athletics. It was originally established by President Ronald Reagan. In its creation, National Girls and Women in Sports Day initially honored female Olympian and equality advocate Flo Hyman. However, as time progressed, this national holiday began to emphasize the significance of all female roles within sports.

The Olympics is one of the most viewed athletic events in the world. In 1900, women made their first debut at the Paris games. Over a century later, we have had a multitude of women making appearances and winning momentous titles. The following eight women have Illinois ties and major sports achievements:

Lauren Doyle – Springfield-born and Boody-raised rugby player for Team USA, Doyle is a two-time Olympian. She also received fourth place in the 2018 World Championship. She has participated on several teams, including Eastern Illinois University, Chicago Lions, and the Women’s Sevens Residency Program.

Nefeli Papadakis – An Illinois native who began practicing judo at the age of four with her father is now a member of Team USA with aspirations to take the Olympian world by storm. By the age of 17, Papadakis took fifth place at the 2015 Cadet World Championships. She holds consecutive World Championship titles from 2013 to 2019. She has already traveled to 25 countries to compete and train. She continues to pursue judo and expand her fighting capabilities.

Pedrya Seymour – This Olympic hurdler expanded her athletic career while attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Although she has a plethora of achievements and records, she holds the second fastest indoor 60m hurdle time in Illinois history (7.97) and the second-fastest 100m hurdles time in Illinois history (12.64). Seymour is also a three-time All-American and broke the O’Brien facility record twice.

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Image of a woman and her knowledgeJane Addams is recognized annually on Dec. 10 in Illinois for her positive contributions to the lives of women and children. She was born in Cedarville, Illinois, in 1860. As she grew older, she dedicated herself to social work, activism and feminism for women everywhere. She is credited with bringing a Hull House to Chicago to house and educate women in pursuit of social and political reform among the working-class neighborhoods of the city. In addition to being a co-founder of this settlement house, Jane Addams played a formative role in the creation of the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union, which fight to expand civil liberties to all people regardless of their origin, creed, race or background.

Jane Addams is a global figure as well. She was the second woman in the world to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the first in the U.S. to receive the award. James Addams Day was first recognized in Illinois in 2006, making Addams one of few women to have a commemorative day across the U.S.

To observe Jane Addams Day, visit the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, which offers tours, exhibits and workshops that spark conversations about what can be learned from Jane Addams and icons like her. The museum is located in Hull Home, a national historic landmark and one of the original settlement house buildings founded by Addams. It features programs and events beyond Jane Addams to continue her legacy of social reform. Patrons can learn about gender equality, governmental accountability, access to food and civic engagement.

Information about the museum, its events and programs can be found here.

burgerIt’s National Fast Food Day in the United States. Food lovers in Illinois and all across the United States have an excuse to indulge at one of their favorite fast food restaurants. Whether they use the drive-thru, dine-in, or get it to go, National Fast Food Day calls for us to sample grilled, fried, and broiled menu staples. First popularized in the United States in the 1950s, fast food is considered any meal with low preparation time served to a customer in a packaged form. The meal makes for quick dine-in, take-out or take-away- and most fast-food restaurants offer drive-thru service.  In fact, there are over 300,000 fast food restaurants in the U.S. alone. The industry is also highly profitable, with U.S. consumers spending more than $110 Billion on fast food every year. One of the most iconic fast food franchises got its start right here in Illinois. Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, opened his first restaurant in Des Plaines in April 1955.

Many companies are offering deals, so people should pay attention to their Twitter and other social media accounts for pending announcements. Carl's Jr. and Hardees, owned by the same parent company, are celebrating National Fast Food Day with a special prices- including a deal on the Big Carl Small Combo, according to a statement sent to Hardee's is dishing up the Big Hardee Small Combo for $5.49. According to, Nov. 15 is the birthday for another major fast food chain, Wendy’s. Wendy’s is celebrating its birthday as well as National Fast Food Day with a free order of fries, any size, as long as you place an order through the Wendy's app. For University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students, the campus good eats newspaper, SPOON  UNIVERSITY, has highlighted a number of local restaurants as well as major chains along Green Street. Students can check out the full list of options by viewing their article here.  

Give a shout out to your favorite fast-food restaurant using  #NationalFastFoodDay to post on social media.