By the President of the United States of America
When the month of May was first set aside in 1963 in special tribute to our Nation's senior citizens, there were fewer than eighteen million Americans over the age of sixty-five. Today, their number exceeds twenty-three million.
Older Americans are an invaluable source of talent, skills and experience. Their sacrifice and hard work in the past have brought us through wars and hard times, and kept our Nation faithful to the values and principles on which it was founded. They are our link with what has gone before, remembering the good things we are in constant danger of losing, as well as the bad things we have overcome, and how it was possible. They can help us understand the mistakes of the past so that we do not repeat them. They can help us gather strength and courage from the wisdom of the past to make a better future for our children.
Their skills and knowledge are important to our economy, and it is important to their lives and health that they be able to remain as self-reliant as possible, through employment and other opportunities, and through necessary supportive services that enable them to live their later years in dignity and self-respect. Just as they must not be arbitrarily excluded from contributing to our society, they must not be asked to bear the burdens of society when they are no longer able.
These men and women are a vital part of this Nation. Like all Americans, they need comfortable and safe places to live, nutritious daily diets and adequate incomes and services to give them freedom to make choices. We all must work together to create these conditions in our communities.
Now, THEREFORE, I, JIMMY CARTER, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate the month of May as Older Americans Month and I ask public officials at all levels, community agencies, educators, the clergy, the communications media and each American to help make it possible for older Americans to enjoy their later years.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and second.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 4:01 p.m., April 19, 1978]