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Celebrate older Americans who've made life better
Senior moments
Rich DeLong is the executive director of Station Exchange Senior Care. - photo by File photo

May is Older Americans Month.

What qualifies a person to be an older American? Outside of being a U.S. citizen, my guess is if you can remember using a rotary-dial phone, watching a black-and-white TV with only 13 channel selections (many of which had no broadcast), or driving a car with "three on the tree," you probably qualify.

I know I’m an older American because I just had another birthday and nobody asked me how young I was. Plus, two weeks ago, my column was missing in the paper because I forgot to write it. Yep, but wait, there’s more!

I just had an MRI on my shoulder that has been hurting for three months. I have not received the results yet, but since the MRI, my hip has started to hurt as well. But celebrating Older Americans Month is not about aches and pains, memory shortcomings or nostalgia.

Older Americans Month is an annual event dating back to 1963, when President John F. Kennedy designated May as Senior Citizens Month.

It was later renamed, honoring older Americans and celebrating their contributions to our communities and our nation.

We have to look no further than our own neighborhoods to find those special people who have made life better for many. Whether it is serving our country through the armed forces or serving others through local government, education, commerce, church or volunteerism, it is important to recognize the people who have helped us get to where we are.

A recent ABC News report highlighted the reuniting of a World War II veteran with a Holocaust survivor whom he set free from a concentration camp more than 70 years ago.

"Sid Shafner, 94, is back in the U.S. after a stirring eight-day trip to Israel and Poland last week. He was honored at a Holocaust remembrance ceremony for his hand, as a young troop, in helping to liberate some 30,000 prisoners from the Dachau Concentration Camp in southern Germany in 1945."

One of those prisoners was 19-year-old Marcel Levy, now 90.

"Everything I have today, all of my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, is due to you, Sid," Levy said as the two longtime friends met for the first time in two decades.

Wow! Talk about heroes.

The first person who comes to my mind to celebrate would be my mom, who has demonstrated to me that age is only a number and faith can pull you through anything.

Do you have a hero in your life — someone who gave much so you could have more? My guess is you do.

So make sure you tell her how much she means to you and how everything you have is because of all her selfless giving.

Then take it a step further and thank someone you don’t even know. Chances are that person also had a part in making you who you are.

May is the month to recognize our older Americans. Celebrate well, my friends!

 Call DeLong at 912-531-7867 or email him at

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