Back in August 1988, before many of us graduated to the Senior Citizen class, in a show of bipartisanship that is increasingly rare these days, this is what came out of Washington:
The Congress, by House Joint Resolution 138, has designated August 21, 1988, as “National Senior Citizens Day” and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this event.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim August 21, 1988, as National Senior Citizens Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
At the time he was sworn in as our 40th President, Ronald Reagan himself was less than a month from his 70th birthday and at the time he signed the Senior Citizen proclamation he was 77 years old, and had already secured his legacy as one of America’s most revered senior citizens.
And while the current occupant of the White House might not have the endearing charm of Ronald Reagan, he is without doubt, one of the most energetic senior citizens to ever hold that office, and in that respect should be an example to all of us.
In this youth-oriented culture of ours where wrinkle free skin is almost worshipped (A USA Today article said that An American Society of Plastic Surgeons report found Americans spent more than $16 billion on cosmetic plastic surgeries and minimally invasive procedures in 2016), it is appropriate to set aside some time to appreciate our Senior Citizens, for what they have already and continue to contribute to our nation, our culture and our economy.
There are endless examples of famous senior citizens who made major accomplishments to the world after they were already seniors; here are just a few I found inspiring:
- At the age of 52, despite battles with diabetes and arthritis, Ray Kroc set out to build the McDonald’s brand after working 17 years of his adult life as a paper cup salesman, and another 17 peddling a machine that could craft five milkshakes at once. Seven years after he convinced the McDonald brothers to sell out their shares, he became the owner of a franchise that would sell more than a billion hamburgers by 1963. Kroc continued to be involved in McDonald’s operations until his death in 1984.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder’s best-selling series of books began with “Little House in the Big Woods,” which chronicled her pioneering childhood in the late 1800s. The books were so well-loved that NBC adapted one into a pilot and then a TV series (“Little House on the Prairie”) that aired from 1974 to 1982. However, Wilder didn’t publish her first book until she was 64. She published “Little House in the Big Woods” in 1932 and continued the series about herself and her family, ending with “These Happy Golden Years” in 1943, at age 76.
- Who was the woman who captivated U.S. presidents and art audiences at home and abroad? Anna Mary Robertson Moses was better known to the world as “Grandma Moses”, a woman who didn’t begin to paint until the age of 76, when her hands became too crippled by arthritis to hold an embroidery needle. She found herself unable to sit around and do nothing after a long life spent working on farms. When Anna Mary Robertson Moses died in 1961 at age 101, then-President John F. Kennedy released a statement praising her paintings for inspiring a nation, noting, “All Americans mourn her loss” [
My point in highlighting these inspiring senior citizen accomplishments is to inspire those of you who have already retired to your rocking chair. What will YOU accomplish today? This year? It’s never too late!
Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week.
Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Ray Kroc, right, with McDonald’s executive Fred Turner in 1975. Photograph: Everett/Rex/Shutterstock
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