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Why we celebrate National Grandparents Day
As a child, Marian McQuade would walk with her grandma from the family farm into town, where they would visit elderly residents.
“I never forgot talking with those delightful people,” McQuade once recalled, according to the Legacy Project. “That’s where my love and respect for oldsters started.”
McQuade would grow up to establish a national holiday, National Grandparents Day, for those oldsters. The holiday is on September 11 this year.
Born in West Virginia, McQuade was a lifelong advocate for older adults. In 1970, she began campaigning for the White House to declare an official holiday for grandparents and elderly people. She dreamed families would gather together on the holiday, not just to celebrate grandparents but to strengthen relationships across generations.
In 1978, McQuade’s campaign was successful and President Jimmy Carter declared National Grandparents Day. It falls on every second Sunday in September.
“The elders of each family have the responsibility for setting the moral tone for the family and for passing on the traditional values of our Nation to their children and grandchildren,” Carter’s declaration read. “They bore the hardships and made the sacrifices that produced much of the progress and comfort we enjoy today. It is appropriate, therefore, that as individuals and as a nation, that we salute our grandparents for their contribution to our lives.”
Before she died in 2008, McQuade had 43 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Many of them, including Lailah Rice, have fond memories of their “very free-spirited, feisty, and very caring and nurturing” Grandma.
"You can learn a lot more from grandparents than you think you can — and it's not a chore,“ Rice told the Legacy Project.