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Let's Appreciate Our Senior Citizens

Updated on August 21, 2015

Did you know that today is National Senior Citizens Day? On August 19, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5847 declaring August 21 as National Senior Citizens Day. In the proclamation, President Reagan stated, "For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute." I couldn't agree more. Many senior citizens are still serving their communities and performing as well as their younger counterparts -- or better in some cases --in various fields of endeavor.

Thanks to the many advances in medicine, many Americans are living longer and enjoying better health than their ancestors. Look around you and you will see senior citizens who serve in the medical field, in law, politics, entertainment and business. Some of you who are reading this may be senior citizens yourselves and are still viable members of society. In this hub, we'll look at some famous senior citizens who amazed us and still do with their courage, dedication and skill.

Going into space

John Glenn made history in 1962 when he became the first American to orbit earth three times. The trip lasted five hours. Glenn was only forty-one then, and received a lot of accolades for his achievement when he returned to earth. President John F. Kennedy awarded him the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and encouraged him to go into public life. In 1974, Glenn became a US Democratic senator for the state of Ohio.

However, Glenn's feet were not firmly rooted on the ground, and in 1998 at the age of 77, he returned to space on the shuttle Discovery. One of the goals of this nine-day mission was to investigate aging and space travel. John Glenn, astronaut and politician, has become a legendary figure. In 2012, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

President Jimmy Carter shakes hands with Secretary John Kerry.
President Jimmy Carter shakes hands with Secretary John Kerry. | Source

President Jimmy Carter

The former peanut farmer turned politician who later became the 39th president of the United States is the oldest surviving former president. However, as I write this, he has just announced that his cancer cells have spread to his brain. He appeared in good spirits and said he is "ready for anything." The 94-year-old former president will best be remembered for his post-presidency work and the many humanitarian activities in which he has been involved over the years. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. for setting up The Carter Center for advancing human rights.

President Carter has traveled extensively to help in the fight against disease. During the recent Ebola outbreak, The Carter Center was instrumental in educating citizens and leaders in Liberia about the disease. President Carter has also been involved in resolving conflicts and promoting democracy and human rights. Another of his notable achievements is Habitat For Humanity, a non-profit organization that helps low-income people renovate and build homes for themselves. President Carter is also the author of 23 books ranging on topics dealing with aging, religion, human rights and poetry.

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Jane Fonda

No pain no gain

In 1982 Jane Fonda coined the above phrase when she released her workout videos, which went on to sell over 17 million copies over the next 13 years. By then, the phrase no pain no gain was on everybody's lips. Prior to that, Fonda had been a very popular actress winning multiple awards on the big screen and on Broadway. She left off acting when she married billionaire Ted Turner, but returned to acting after their divorce in 2001 at the age of 64. Fonda once more threw herself into her work and secured nominations on Broadway and for her HBO drama series. She also released more workout videos between 2010 and 2012.

Jane Fonda is also known as a political activist and has protested the Vietnam war and the Iraq war. She describes herself as a feminist.

Age is just a number

This is the mantra of Ernestine Shepherd, another woman who has made her mark in the field of physical fitness. Ernestine and her sister Mildred began lifting weights in their 50s. Ernestine's sister Mildred had a goal of both of them earning the Guinness World Record as the oldest female bodybuilders. Unfortunately, Mildred passed away and Ernestine decided to carry on her sister's dream. At 71 she entered her first competition -- and won. At age 78, she has been recognized as the world's oldest competitive body builder by both Guinness and Ripley's Believe It or Not.

Ernestine attributes her excellent physique to waking at 3.00 a.m., reading her Bible, walking and running. She also conducts fitness classes at her Maryland Gym, Energy Fitness.

Ernestine Shepherd

Take it to the top

Another person who made it into the Guinness Book Of Records is Yuichiro Miura, Japanese alpinist who in 2003 at the age of 70 became the oldest person to climb to the summit of Mt. Everest. He performed this feat successfully two more times in 2008 and 2013 at the age of 80. Prior to that, in 1970 he became the first person to ski on Mt. Everest. His 4200 feet vertical descent was documented in the film The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1975).


What are your views

Were you inspired by reading about the famous people in this article? I'm sure you have. Their performance has placed each of them in the top ranks of their respective fields. Not many of us may be able to climb Mt. Everest or become a fitness trainer at 78, but we can reach our true potential if we put our minds to it. If you are a senior citizen who has given up on your dreams, think again.

Or, maybe you are a younger person who knows an elderly citizen who is sinking into depression and isolation, why not take the time to encourage that person today? Hard work, perseverance and believing that God can help them be all they desire to be will take them to the top. As someone said, it's not the years in your life, but the life in your years.


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    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 18 months ago from Florida

      Yes, she is. Thanks for stopping by, Audrey.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 18 months ago from California

      Very cool write--I was just watching a show on Netflix with Jane Fonda--she is inspirational!

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 2 years ago from Florida

      Thanks, Jackie. Jane is an inspiration to us all.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Thanks for bringing this to our attention! If I knew I certainly forgot and you have brought up some great oldies! I wouldn't have cared to look like Jane at thirty! She has outdone everyone I think on age.

      Very entertaining and informative article. Thanks again!