The Little-Known History of Grandparents Day

Happy Grandparents Day from SunRiver! 

National Grandparents Day falls every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day, marking September 8 as the 2019 holiday. Unlike many other holidays, the story behind National Grandparents Day is much more than an excuse to sell flowers, gifts or greeting cards.

The idea for the holiday was thought up by Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade, a housewife from West Virginia who served on both the state’s Commission on Aging and its Nursing Home Licensing Board. She and her husband Joseph had 15 children, 43 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild over the course of their lives.

Starting in the 1970s, Mrs. McQuade developed three primary purposes for her holiday:

1. To honor grandparents.

2. To give grandparents the opportunity to show love for their grandchildren.

3. To help children and grandchildren become more aware of the wisdom, strength and guidance that grandparents can offer younger generations.

Mrs. McQuade envisioned National Grandparents day as a family day, one filled with family events, reunions and community get-togethers. Working with civic, community and religious leaders, she campaigned for the creation of Grandparents Day from 1970 to 1973 — the year it was first recognized as a holiday in the state of West Virginia.

Six years later, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the day a national holiday on every first Sunday after Labor Day, with special significance given to September for representing the “autumn” years of life.

In his address announcing the national holiday, President Carter proclaimed the importance of grandparents in the lives of their descendants and in society as a whole, saying:

“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…society, our senior generation also provides [us] 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, [grandparents] can often reach out past pride and fear of failure, and close the space between generations.”

On this National Grandparents Day, we wish you happiness, gratitude and memories with your family!

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