Wednesday, June 9

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Gov. Blagojevich names Interstate 88
'The Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway'

Governor declares Friday, June 11, a State Day of Remembrance

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[JUNE 9, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- As the nation grieves the loss of Ronald Reagan, Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued an executive order Tuesday renaming the portion of Interstate 88 managed by the Illinois Department of Transportation "The Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway." The governor also sent a letter to John Mitola, tollway chairman, asking the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority to name the portion of I-88 under their jurisdiction for President Reagan as well.

"In recognition of all of his accomplishments and of everything he did on behalf of the American people, naming I-88, which passes just south of President Reagan's hometown of Dixon, is a fitting way to both honor and remember him," the governor said. "Now, when people drive on I-88, they'll remember Ronald Reagan and everything he did for our country. They'll remember his strength and convictions. They'll remember the way he restored our belief in the American dream."

Interstate 88 stretches across the northern tier of Illinois and passes by Reagan's birthplace of Dixon. The governor's executive order naming the portion of I-88 from Sterling to the Quad Cities for Reagan takes effect immediately. In his letter to Mitola, the governor asked the Toll Highway Authority to convene a special meeting to vote to name the tollway portion of I-88 for President Reagan.

Reagan lived in Dixon until he was 21, and for seven seasons he held a summer job as a lifeguard at Lowell Park. He graduated from Eureka College in 1932 with a bachelor's degree in social science and economics. After graduation he left Illinois, but his roots in the state run deep. In 1952, he married Nancy Davis, the daughter of a prominent Chicago surgeon.

After finding success as an actor in Hollywood, Reagan was elected governor of California in 1966 and served three terms. He was sworn in as the 40th president of the United States on Jan. 20, 1981, and later served a second term.

Reagan died on June 5 at the age of 93. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; his daughter, Patti Davis; his sons, Michael and Ronald Jr.; and his granddaughter, Rita.

In addition to the executive order renaming I-88, Gov. Blagojevich declared Friday, June 11, a State Day of Remembrance. State offices will remain open. The governor also announced that beginning Friday a book will be available at the state Capitol for visitors to write their thoughts and memories of Ronald Reagan. On Monday, the governor issued a proclamation ordering all state facilities to fly their flags at half-staff until July 4.

 

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Blagojevich's letter to Mitola reads as follows:

I am writing today to request that the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority name the Tollway portion of I-88, which runs approximately from Elmhurst to Sterling, in honor of former United States President Ronald Reagan.

Today, I issued an executive order naming the portion of I-88 managed by the Illinois Department of Transportation, which runs approximately from Sterling to the Quad Cities, as the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway. I would deeply appreciate it if the Toll Highway Authority would do the same.

As you know, President Reagan passed away on Saturday. He was a man of strong convictions, and no one communicated them better. His strong stance for freedom helped lead to the collapse of communism and the growth of democracy across the world. But perhaps President Reagan's greatest accomplishment was that he helped restore to the American people their belief in the American dream. I know firsthand the power of the American dream, and I know that President Reagan's unrelenting faith in it meant more to our nation than words can describe.

In recognition of all of his accomplishments, and of everything he did on behalf of the American people, naming I-88, which passes just south of President Reagan's hometown of Dixon, is a fitting way to both honor and remember him.

If you, or the members of your board, need anything to help inform your decision, please let me know. Thank you for considering my request.

[News release from the governor's office]

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