National Senior Citizens Day recognizes the contributions senior citizens make in communities across the United States. It is annually observed on August 21. Some people celebrated Senior Citizens Day on August 14 as it was the day US president Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935. However, in 1988 President Ronald Reagan declared August 21 to be National Senior Citizens Day.
Senior Citizens Day is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours. But across the country, and the world, various events and activities are organized on Senior Citizens Day to raise awareness of supporting older people and recognizing their achievements.
Senior citizens make up a growing segment of our population in the United States and around the world. This has meant a change in the economies of many countries, including our own. It may seem like something to regret, but as people get older and many of them retire from the paid workforce several good things happen. One of those is an increasing number of people available for volunteer opportunities. We have many older people who volunteer to help out with projects around the township, from helping out with our Family Fun Day and Holiday Celebrations to working a regular volunteer shift in our Food Pantry.
It is so important that, as a society, we continue to appreciate the contributions made by the seniors among us. Spend time with seniors that you know, not just for their benefit, but for your own. Senior citizens have so much experience and good and wise perspective on the ways of the world. Many times I will hear young people become upset about various happenings in the news and such. They often think that these happenings are new and unheard of and that we must be heading for never-before-seen disasters, but the elders among us have seen many things, similar or the same to those things happening today. Often we have ‘been there, done that’ and know that despite appearances, things will work out in the end.
In closing, I would like to remember one senior who gave the world so much throughout her life, but especially in her later years. Toni Morrison, who died this month at 88 years of age, was the first and only African-American woman writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. She wrote many moving and beautiful books, and she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel Beloved. Much of Ms. Morrison’s work was written during her senior years, and I see her as an example of how the value of a person continues on and even grows throughout their life, all the way to the end, whenever that may come.
So who, you may ask, is a senior citizen? The United Nations historically has defined older persons as people 60 years or over (sometimes 65). It didn’t matter whether you lived in the United States, China or Senegal, even though life expectancy is drastically different in each of those countries. Nor did it depend on an individual’s functional or cognitive abilities, which can also be widely divergent. Everyone became old at 60. It was as though you walked through a door at midnight on the last day of 59, emerging a completely different person the next morning: an old person.
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