The Sage Connection

A belated Happy Grandparents Day

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Last Sunday, Sept. 10, was National Grandparents Day – a time to celebrate with your loved ones and family, real and adopted.

Grandparents Day has been a National Holiday since 1979 but many Americans are unaware this holiday exists. So here is a little history to bring you up to date.

It began in 1969 when nine-year-old Russell Capper sent President Nixon a letter suggesting that a day should be set aside in order to celebrate grandparents. On June 12, 1969, he received a letter back from Rose Mary Woods — Personal Secretary to the President — reading,

“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.”

Thanks, but no thanks.

Following this letter, in 1973, Marian McQuade was recognized nationally by the U.S. Senate and by President Jimmy Carter as the founder of National Grandparents Day. McQuade wanted to educate the youth about the importance of seniors and the contributions they have made throughout history. She urged the youth to “adopt” a grandparent and learn more about their lives, challenges, and desires for the future.

In 1977, Senators Jennings Randolph and Robert Byrd, with the help of other senators, introduced a joint resolution to the senate requesting the president to “issue annually a proclamation designating the first Sunday of September after Labor Day of each year as ‘National Grandparents’ Day’.” Congress passed the legislation, proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparent’s Day. On August 3, 1978, Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation, and the day was finally celebrated the following year.

President Biden issued the following proclamation this year:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 12, 2021, as National Grandparents Day.  I call upon all Americans to celebrate the important role that grandparents play in the lives of their families and the children they love.

How Big a Role do Grandparents Play in Today’s Society?

According to Generations United: (Generations United.com)

  • 8 million children are being raised by grandparents and/or other family members in America today.
  • 92% of Americans believe intergenerational activities reduce loneliness
  • 1 in 4 Americans currently live in multigenerational households.
  • 2 out of 3 Americans would like more interaction outside of their age group.

What do We Need to Support These Grandfamilies?

  • Increased multigenerational housing stock and affordability.
  • Promotion of multigenerational living as an environmentally friendly housing option.
  • Expanded access to affordable, high-quality child and adult daycare including co-locating care by developing more intergenerational shared sites.
  • Expanded paid family leave and flexible work environments.
  • Increased access to home- and community-based services and supports.
  • Support of innovative intergenerational approaches to education at home.

Nor are we the only country recognizing the importance of these family members.

GRANDPARENTS DAYS AROUND THE WORLD

Australia -- Grandparents Day - A Day for those in Australia to honor their grandparents on the last Sunday in October

Brazil -- Grandparents Day or "Dia dos avós".  An annual celebration of grandparents in Brazil on        July 26.

Singapore -- Grandparents Day A dedicated holiday in Singapore to celebrate grandparents. It's been a tradition since 1979, on the fourth Sunday in November

Mexico -- Grandparents Day or "Día del Abuelo", a chance for those in Mexico to celebrate their grandparents on August 28.

So now you know. And our Grandparents Day is always the first Sunday after  Labor Day. So, plan an event, pick up a bouquet of flowers or cookies, and celebrate!

Kathleen Anderson writes this column each week from her home in Olympia.  Contact her at  kathleen@theJOLTnews.com or post your comment below. 

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