In March of 1944, a 43-year-old Senator Claude Pepper introduced a resolution to designate the second Sunday in October as “Old Folks Day.” While the resolution did not pass, Pepper would go on to devote much of his energies in the Senate and later in Congress, to ensure that elderly Americans retained the ability to age with dignity and respect. It would be 19 years before President Kennedy would proclaim May as Older Americans Month, which would also coincide with the passage of the Medicare Act; a program designed to provide health insurance for Americans 65 years of age and older that is still with us today.
Older Americans Month is a time to recognize the achievements and contributions of elder Americans throughout our country’s history up to the present day. While not a federally recognized month of observance, each president to hold office since President Kennedy has issued a proclamation that the month be used to honor and pay tribute in word and action to our fellow older citizens. If you are interested in learning more, visit the Older Americans Month website, and be sure to check out our finding aids for primary source material about this month, and Claude Pepper’s work for elder Americans!
A happy Older Americans Month to all! Please consider taking time this month to recognize senior citizens in your life!