Barack Obama Celebrates 61st Birthday by Naming Water Garden at His Presidential Center After His Mother

From left: former President Barack Obama with his mother, Ann Dunham, in Hawaii in the ’60s. (PHOTO: COURTESY THE OBAMA FOUNDATION)

Barack Obama is celebrating his 61st birthday by naming a new addition to the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago after his mother, Ann Dunham.

On Thursday, the 44th president announced that the Obama Presidential Center’s water garden, which will be located near the center’s north entrance garden, will be named after his mother.

The water garden “will serve as a designated place on campus meant for reflection and relaxation” and feature an art installation from Maya Lin — the artist who created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. — called “Seeing Through the Universe,” which promises to feature an oculus that creates mist and a flat “pebble” piece that will fill with water.

“When we thought about what may be a fitting way to commemorate my mother’s influence on my sister and me, I thought about where she would want to be in this space,” Obama said in a release. “I could picture her sitting on one of the benches on a nice summer afternoon, smiling and watching a bunch of kids running through the fountain, and I thought that would capture who she was as well as just about anything else.”

Lin, 62, also created the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, and is one of Obama’s personal favorite artists, according to Obama’s team. In 2016, Obama awarded Lin with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, during his final months in the White House.

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