By the President of the United States of America
This Nation was established to provide its people with the chance for better lives. Our early settlers and those who expanded the Nation westward bore their sacrifices and hardships with the assurance that in this free land future generations would enjoy opportunities still undreamed of.
The health of America's children today often determines what their future can be tomorrow. Over the years the number of deaths among babies has been drastically cut and we have made great strides toward eliminating the diseases and handicaps of childhood. We still have much to learn and accomplish, especially in the areas of birth abnormalities, child abuse, teenage alcoholism and drug addiction, lack of availability of medical care, and damage brought on by environmental factors.
But it is tragic for a child to die or endure lifelong handicaps from conditions we can prevent. Although such diseases as polio, measles, rubella, diphtheria and whooping cough have been subdued for the time being, they are not beaten. It is in our power to protect all our children, but nearly 40 per cent of those under the age of 15 are inadequately immunized. Some of these children will die or have serious disabilities and unborn babies will be permanently damaged from these preventable diseases and their complications.
No American child should die or suffer needless handicaps from diseases for which safe and effective vaccines are readily available. Neither should any child be deprived of adequate nutrition or a safe environment. While pushing back the walls of our knowledge and improving medical techniques may be restricted to scientists and medical experts, this is an area where every citizen can have an impact on giving our children the opportunity for better health, both now and in the years to come.
To encourage awareness of the fundamental necessity of a year-round program for the protection and the development of the Nation's health, the Congress, by joint resolution of May 18, 1928, as amended (36 U.S.C. 143) has requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating the first Monday in October as Child Health Day and calling for its appropriate observance.
Now, THEREFORE, I, JIMMY CARTER, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Monday, October 3, 1977, as Child Health Day. I invite all Americans, as well as all agencies and organizations dedicated to the well-being of children, to unite on that day in support of activities that will alert each of us to our separate and collective responsibilities to protect and enhance the health of America's children and to provide them with the opportunity to live in safety and to grow up strong and knowledgeable about their own and their families' health needs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and second.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 5:03 p.m., September 20, 1977]