A Brief History of
National Grandparents Day
|This day has a threefold purpose:
Grandparents Day First Sunday After Labor Day
In 1970, a West Virginia
housewife, Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade, initiated a campaign to set
aside a special day just for Grandparents. Through concerted
efforts on the part of civic, business, church, and political leaders,
this campaign expanded statewide. Senator Jennings Randolph (D-WV) was
especially instrumental in the project. The first Grandparents Day was proclaimed in 1973 in West Virginia by
Governor Arch Moore. Also in 1973, Senator
Randolph introduced a Grandparents Day resolution in the United States
Senate. The resolution languished in committee.
Mrs. McQuade and her team
turned to the media to garner support. They also began contacting governors,
senators, congressmen in every state. And they sent letters to churches,
businesses, and numerous national organizations interested in senior
citizens. In 1978,
five years after its West Virginia inception, the United StatesCongress
proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents
Day. The proclamation was signed
by President Jimmy Carter. (September was chosen for the holiday, to
signify the "autumn years" of life.)
event, begun by only a few, is observed by millions throughout the United
The Founder of Grandparents Day
A native of Fayette County,
Marian McQuade and her husband Joe are the parents of 15 children. They
have 40 grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren.
Mrs. McQuade began
a campaign in 1970 to set aside a day for grandparents; yet her work
with senior citizens dates back to 1956, beginning with the Past Eighty
Party, (originated by Jim Comstock, editor of the West Virginia Hillbilly). Mrs. McQuade has worked in several states with seniors. Iin 1971, she
was elected Vice-Chairman of the West Virginia Committee on Aging and
appointed as delegate to the White House Conference on Aging by Governor
Arch A. Moore.
In 1972, Mrs. McQuade's efforts helped persuade President
Richard Nixon to proclaim a National Shut-in Day.
|Having served as President
of the Vocational Rehabilitation Foundation, Vice-President of the West
Virginia Health Systems Agency, appointed to the Nursing Home Licensing
Board and having served as Co-chairman for the Bi-Centennial Centenarian
Search for the West Virginia Commission on Aging, Mrs. McQuade has dedicated
her life to advocating for senior citizens--pprticularly the most elderly.
| Grandparents Day is a family
day. Schools, churches, and senior organizations honor grandparents with
special events. Some families enjoy small, private gatherings. Others
celebrate by holding a family reunion. Board games which are easily played
by young and old add enjoyment to family gatherings, enhancing "intergenerational
For those who entertain large groups, it can be fun to
have a story-telling time, allowing grandparents to relate stories of
their past, enlightening children about " the old days." Also
interesting is to take a census, such as oldest and newest grandchild,
family with the most grandchildren, and families with five generation
As Grandparents Day
approaches, help Children and/or Grandchildren to identify and date
all photos in old family albums. Many happy memories can be derived
is a grandchild and can be involved in the observance of this day -
a time to discover one's roots and leam patience, understanding and
appreciation for the elderly. Grandparents
Day is the perfect time to enhance communication between the generations.
talents, such as cooking, sculpting or quilting can be passed on to
those who display an interest. Old family music, songs and dances,
along with their meanings and origins, are important in maintaining
a strong sense of family background. Together, re-construct a
family tree, giving children the opportunity to learn the ancestral
line of their family. Strive to preserve particular ethnic or religious
Many times, only grandparents
have answers to questions about family histories. When this information
is passed down to the grandchildren, everyone can be assured of his
heritage being preserved.
Most important, Grandparents
Day can signify a loving spirit that lives winin us throughout the year--a
spirit of love and respect for our elders.
Shut-Ins and Homebound Elderly
Along with Grandparents Day,
we should not forget shut-ins and those in nursing homes who are unable
to be with their families or have no families. Every effort must be made
to include these people in the mainstream through cards, community projects
and visitation at times other than just holidays.
There are many, many elderly
who arae not fortunate encough to have family nearby. The need is increarsing
every day to fill the void of their loneliness. In every neighborhood,
there are elderly who would love an opportunity to be a Foster Grandparent.
Parents, churches, schools, and senior organizations, help children to adopt a grandparent!