Grandparent’s Day Is Set Aside to Honor Elders

Grandparent's Day

Many Americans look forward to celebrating Mother’s and Father’s day each year in the United States. Both are highly respected and commercialized, but there would be no moms and dads without grandparents.

President Jimmy Carter signed a federal proclamation in 1978, declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparent’s Day.

Russell Capper, a 9-year-old boy, was the first to suggest grandparent’s day. He wrote a letter to President Richard Nixon advocating for a dedicated holiday for grandparents. The president’s personal secretary responded by writing him a letter.

Dear Russell,

Thank you for your letter to President Nixon. Your suggestion regarding a Grandparent’s Day is appreciated, but the President ordinarily issues proclamations designating periods for special observance only when a Congressional resolution authorizes him to do so.

With best wishes,

Sincerely, Rose Mary Woods, Personal Secretary to the President.

Marian McQuade, a West Virginian, was the second person to propose that grandparents get a special day. She served on the West Virginia Commission on aging and the nursing home licensing board. She figured the holiday would encourage families to visit their older family members that reside in nursing homes.

In the 1970s she initiated a campaign to establish and gain support for a day of recognition for grandparents. She thought this would be a good opportunity for grandparents to bond with their families member and talk about their history and experiences.

Three years later, in 1973, West Virginia Gov. Arch Moore Declared Grandparent’s Day an annual holiday.

For many years McQuade fought for support across the country. She contacted governors, and Congress members in all 50 states and asked them to make Grandparent’s Day a national holiday. Forty-three of the states proclaimed the holiday; this was a massive success for her.

In 1977, Sen. Jennings Randolph introduced a bill to create a national observance of the day.

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter and congress signed and passed federal legislation and proclaimed National Grandparent’s Day a holiday. They celebrated it the following year in 1979. The proclamation stated:

“The elders of each family have the responsibility for setting the moral tone for the family and for passing on the traditional values of our nation to their children and grandchildren. They bore the hardships and made the sacrifices that produced much of the progress and comfort we enjoy today. It is appropriate, therefore, that as individuals and as a nation, that we salute our grandparents for their contribution to our lives, We all know grandparents whose values transcend passing fads and pressures, and who possess the wisdom of distilled pain and joy. Because they are usually free to love and guide and befriend the young without having to take daily responsibility for them, they can often reach out past pride and fear of failure and close the space between generations, I urge all Americans to take the time to honor their own grandparents or those in their community.”

Grandparent's DayAccording to the U.S. census bureau, about 1.3 million grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren under the age of 18.

About 2 million grandparents are in the workforce, which is a significant change since the 70s because most grandmothers stayed at home and took care of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Around the world, grandparents play a significant role in the lives of their offspring. They deserve a day for their families to express how important they are to them.

Grandparent’s Day also allows the elders to share their history and wisdom with their relatives. This will enable people to celebrate and honor loved ones.

The National Grandparent’s Day council selected the “forget-me-not” flower and Johnny Prill’s song ” A Song for Grandma and Grandpa,” representing the holiday.

Many countries like South Sudan, Poland, Canada, France, Germany, Estonia, the U.K., and Australia have joined in to celebrate the holiday but on different dates.

Written by Jessica Letcher
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

Times Herald: Tomorrow is National Grandparents Day; Kandice Bell

Fox 13: Grandparents Day 2020: The history of the holiday; Cox Media National Content Desk

Gothenburg Leader: Happy National Grandparents Day; Ellen Mortensen

Featured Image Courtesy of Ruusu2010’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License

Inset Image Courtesy of JB’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License

 

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