To quickly clarify, we do not refer to the first weekend of the new National Football League season although this joyous time also is celebrated in the immediate aftermath of the Labor Day holiday.
Instead, our attention is directed to another grand — sentimentally even grander — occasion. It is National Grandparents Day.
Most are well familiar with grandparents, or at least their ancestral stardom, as well as their intrinsic value on family cohesiveness. In most cases, they are the inspirations for family reunions; in others, the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
No need to believe us. Just drop by your neighborhood’s closest greetings card aisle. The makers of Hallmark, or any number of creative competitors, will have just the right message depicting your love and appreciation of the elders within your family.
This gets us to our point; that is, the genuine meaning behind National Grandparents Day. No, it was not originated by the Hallmark heirs or anyone with a vested interest in the sale of colorful greeting cards.
It is credited to either of two persons depending upon which historical account one places greatest belief.
Marian McQuade, a resident of Oak Hill, W. Va., is recognized as one of the founders of National Grandparents Day. Documented accounts report that in 1973, U.S. Sen. Jennings Randolph, D-W. Va., introduced a resolution to make Grandparents Day a national holiday. West Virginia Gov. Arch Moore had previously proclaimed an annual Grandparents Day for his state, at the urging of McQuade; however, the well-intended resolution died in committee in the U.S. Senate.
Unbroken by this disappointment, McQuade organized a campaign that solicited governors, senators and congressmen in all 50 states. Her plea was for each state to proclaim its own Grandparents Day. Within three years, she received proclamations from 43.
Buoyed by this new wave of support, McQuade forwarded copies of the proclamations to Randolph who tried again. In February 1977, this time with the backing of a team of senators, Randolph introduced a Joint Resolution asking the president to proclaim the first Sunday of September after Labor Day of each year as National Grandparents Day. Congress passed the legislation, and on Aug. 3, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed it into law.
In fairness to all, let us quickly point out some believe Hermine Beckett Hanna, a resident of North Syracuse, N.Y., should be allowed to share in the moment. In 1961, Hanna led a campaign to establish such a recognition for grandparents, yet her efforts did not reach a national platform. However, on Feb. 21, 1990, New York Congressman James T. Walsh recognized her work in front of the U.S. House of Representatives by crediting “her important role in the establishment of Grandparents Day.”
Regardless of its earliest founder, we are most appreciative of the holiday’s message; that being, “... to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help children become aware of strength, information and guidance older people can offer.”
Such beautiful words carry great weight and a powerful message, one to which we strongly subscribe.
Their crowns may have whitened and their once radiant fires of energy likely have been reduced to warm embers, but the love in the hearts of our Nanas and Papaws will burn eternal.
Long live our grandparents.
Though time will test these fragile frames, theirs are the souls of our past, present and future.