The first Sunday after Labor Day was established as National Grandparents Day in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter.
According to thelegacyproject.org, the proclamation in part reads:
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.
September was chosen because it falls in autumn, the season a metaphor for people living in the later years of life.
West Virginian Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade, with support from her husband Joseph L. McQuade, worked to establish the holiday, not for the commercial sector of society, but for the purpose to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer.
McQuade’s concerted efforts to establish the holiday began in 1971, taking her eight years to have it officially recognized.
People are encouraged to spend time with their grandparents in family gatherings, reunions, or other elders in the community through civic activities.
The McQuades had 15 children, 43 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild and were married for 60 years.
While not all families are so large and some great-grandchildren do not get to know their great-grandparents, most grandparents live on in the stories their children tell, and those stories can provide a wealth of knowledge to warn, educate or inspire younger generations.
People are also encouraged to participate in community activities the week following Grandparents Day.
This grass roots holiday was not created so that people would buy gifts and cards for their grandparents, rather, it was created for people to give far more valuable gifts — time, attention, and love to those grandparents still living today, and those who have long since passed into the spirit world. Happy Grandparents Day!