Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Proclamation 3833—Senior Citizens Month, 1968

March 01, 1968

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

The respect we show for older Americans is not an act of charity. It comes from the recognition that this generation owes all it possesses to those who have borne responsibility in years past.

We have not always recognized the debt we owe them. It was only three decades ago, with the passage of the original Social Security Act in President Roosevelt's administration, that we first began to respond effectively to our continuing national obligation.

In recent years we have begun to make up this moral deficit:

—This year 24 million older Americans will receive the highest level of Social Security benefits in the history of the program—thanks to the 13 percent increase in benefits we passed last year. Ninety percent of our citizens aged 65 and over are now eligible for retirement benefits under Social Security. Millions of older people have been lifted out of conditions of poverty by increased Social Security benefits. Nearly every one of the 78 million wage earners working today has a future retirement protected by Social Security.

—Through Medicare, adopted in 1965, we have at last guaranteed adequate health care to our older citizens—a minimal standard of civilization and decency which required 30 years to achieve. More than 19 million older Americans are now covered by Medicare. During its first year of operation—in fiscal 1967—it paid hospital bills for over 4 million people, and doctor bills for more than 7 million. And it is now providing home health services and other assistance for half a million more.

—Since 1963, we have increased the quality and quantity of housing for our senior citizens. Today the Federal commitment in special housing programs for older citizens totals some $3 billion.

—Under the Older Americans Act, passed in 1967, we have increased educational, recreational, and health services. Today that program includes 650 individual local projects reaching older people in their home communities across the land.

—Demonstration projects are showing us how to make important advances in nutrition, education, transportation and leisure time activities. We are steadily increasing the number of professionally trained individuals who work with and for the elderly.

—We are increasing opportunities for our elder citizens to make use of their talents and experience. Today older Americans serve with great distinction in the VISTA, SCORE, the Foster Grandparent Program, the Peace Corps, and in many community projects and programs of voluntary agencies.

—In 1967 we enacted long-overdue legislation which prohibits discrimination because of age in employment.

This is an extraordinary record of achievement in so short a time. I am proud of it, as every American should be.

But we are still far from the day when we can be satisfied with our achievements. Our goal must be to give each man and woman the opportunity to make his years of retirement also years of accomplishment and meaning, good health and economic security.

Perhaps the greatest need of age is the need to know that one's contributions are still valued. In a society where youth is so highly prized, older men and women need to know that their wisdom and experience are also important to their fellow citizens. Their contributions are one of our nation's most valuable assets—a resource that should be celebrated by every generation of Americans.

Now, Therefore, I, Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate the month of May 1968 as Senior Citizens Month.

I call upon the Federal, State and local governments, in partnership with private and voluntary organizations, to join in community efforts to give further meaning to the continuing theme of this special month: MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF THE LATER YEARS.

Let special emphasis this year be placed on making known the contributions that older Americans are making to our welfare. Let us demonstrate the greatness of our society by bringing new meaning and new vigor to the lives of our elders, who built the framework of our present prosperity and greatness.

I invite the Governors of the States, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commissioner of the District of Columbia, and appropriate officials in other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, to join in the observance of Senior Citizens Month.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of March, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and ninety-second.

Signature of Lyndon B. Johnson


NOTE: Proclamation 3833 was not made public in the form of a White House press release. For the President's remarks upon signing the proclamation, see the preceding item.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Proclamation 3833—Senior Citizens Month, 1968 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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