SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 13, 2015 – To those grandparents who have seen so much of life, it may be one of the greatest experiences to become a grandparent and look upon the future of one’s family in a small bundle of joy called a grandchild. However, for the majority of the population that has not experienced that much life, it may not mean much. Especially when this day rolls around each year, it can truly reveal how much people remember to wish their grandparents well as they celebrate Grandparents’ Day. Even more revealing along this line of thought is that many folks do not even realize that there is such a day to be celebrated as a legal holiday in the United States.
Grandparents’ Day, in fact, is a national holiday in the United States, but it is often overshadowed by the excitement and energy surrounding the start of the college and professional football season and, in years past, the bustle surrounding kids going back to a new school year after Labor Day. This year, Grandparents’ Day will compete with a full slate of games underway Sunday. With that understanding, celebrations of Grandparents’ Day in some households assumes a secondary role in the family activities. And for those left out of the loop, yes, there really is a National Grandparents’ Day!
Sadly for most Americans, National Grandparents’ Day does not make the list of primary holidays to remember like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Some people might be suspicious that the federal government sneaked it into law only recently and that may be why people don’t readily remember it. Of course, one could assume that President Obama would easily remember it since he was raised from the age of 10 by his maternal grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham.
Indeed, during his administration, President Obama has carried on the tradition of recognizing Grandparents’ Day, and this year’s proclamation, in addition to calling “upon all Americans to take the time to honor their own grandparents and those in their community,” stated:
Across America, grandparents are loving pillars of comfort and support. After a lifetime of giving back to their families and communities, grandmothers and grandfathers continue to offer compassion and wisdom to their loved ones and inspire us to be our best selves. On National Grandparents” Day, we honor the sacrifices they make and continue to show our affection and appreciation for them.
We owe so much of who we are and what we have to our grandparents. With grit and dedication, they helped define a new age and open doors of opportunity for us all. From overcoming the depths of economic collapse to fighting to defend our liberty on battlefields around the world, their determination to ensure we could live better lives than they did helped secure our peace and prosperity.
They created the world’s largest economy and strongest middle class. They built skyscrapers, made innovative advances, and charted new frontiers. They broke down barriers and instilled fundamental values and ideals. And the extraordinary example they set in striving to forge a better future for their families and our Nation reflects the idea that we are all part of something larger than ourselves.
In reality, those words could have come from any president from Carter to Bush, but they seem to be extraordinarily counter to what America has become within the past 12 years. An amazing truth about grandparents is that they represent a link between the past and the future, a truth President Jimmy Carter shared in the original proclamation of Grandparents’ Day. On Aug. 3, 1978, Carter made a presidential proclamation creating a National Grandparents’ Day to be held on Sept. 10 in that year. The following year, he signed a second proclamation reflecting the legislation that had been passed by Congress (joint resolution designated H.J. 244) that designated the Sunday after Labor Day each year as National Grandparents Day.
Jimmy Carter’s 1979 Grandparents’ Day proclamation provided a deeper sense of the value of manifesting honor and respect for grandparents throughout the nation.
Grandparents are our continuing tie to the near-past, to the events and beliefs and experiences that so strongly affect our lives and the world around us. Whether they are our own or surrogate grandparents who fill some of the gaps in our mobile society, our senior generation also provides our society a link to our national heritage and traditions.
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.
Again, those words express wisdom regarding the value of grandparents in any culture. It truly puts the value of grandparents into a clearer perspective. Unfortunately, it is easy to take the older ones we love for granted, or even worse, to ignore their genuine value. Such sentiments toward the older generation could determine the future of any society or nation. However, it is the grandparents, the seniors, those seasoned with life experience, who need to assert their own value within the society at large. Despite whether the public respect, or trust in their real life wisdom, or regardless of whether people value the older generation, those grandparents, and those of the older generation are the link to our national heritage and traditions.
Many grandparents and seniors are able to “transcend passing fads and pressure ”and help the younger generation to see from a broader or deeper perspective, to share their memories of the way that their country was when they were growing up, to share the deeper values and understanding of what may matter most. For those seniors who have not simply given in to the benefits of retirement, or to the meaningless distractions that pervade the realm, they may hold the key to America’s future in this dire period of the nation’s existence. Obama is right in this sense because the older generation retains the memories of overcoming economic collapse and “fighting to defend our liberty on battlefields around the world,”
The wealth of experience and wisdom does matter, and senior citizens matter, grandparents matter still. Through those who are awake to the dangers of the time, they can still make a tremendous contribution to help us all remember America’s values and the fundamental ideals that are at the core of what makes America a unique nation among all the nations. They still have the freedom to exercise their First Amendment rights, to express their beliefs and their sense of regard and respect for the nation that nourished and nurtured them in the values of freedom and liberty. There is still time for them to voice what is in their hearts and in their minds. Hopefully, younger Americans can listen with respect, and honor such wisdom.
Happy Grandparents’ Day to all grandmas and grandpas everywhere!