Thursday, February 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, President Lincoln...

Lincoln remains Obama's favorite president...
Today is President Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Last year, for the 200th anniversary of the remarkable day, President Obama jetted off to Springfield, Illinois, to attend the Lincoln Birthday Bicentennial Banquet. Springfield has particular significance for President Obama, in addition to being Lincoln Ground Zero: Three years ago, from the steps of the capitol building, Obama launched his presidential campaign. For Lincoln's birthday bicentennial, there was much hoopla, including a special speech from President Obama, a costume ball, and the special Lincoln penny cheesecake, created by Eli's Cheesecake Company in Chicago, which President Obama is grinning about, above. This year, for birthday 201, things are much quieter, and the White House has announced no public Lincoln celebration. But President Obama remains as connected to President Lincoln as ever, and is still frequently quoting him in public remarks, as well as honoring him in various ways.

To mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation was hung in the Oval Office, in a small ceremony in which President Obama was joined by African American seniors who had participated in the Civil Rights movement (photo at top of post). The proclamation will remain in the Oval Office for five months, before being moved upstairs to the Lincoln Bedroom, where President Lincoln signed the original document on Jan. 1, 1863. President Lincoln is also, of course, the fellow who created the USDA, the People's Department. In the Obama administration, the USDA and the White House are intertwined in an unprecedented way, especially in projects for Let's Move, First Lady Michelle Obama's new campaign. President Lincoln is still all over the White House...

*Oval Office ceremony photo: Pete Souza/White House