Mom Has Her Day—But What About the Kids?

We pay homage this weekend to moms, a tradition that became official in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. And dads will get their moment next month on Father’s Day. But what about the kids?

It was back in 1974 that a group of plucky third graders at Deal Elementary School wrote to then-President Gerald Ford, lobbying for a Kid’s Day.

“[The letter] wasn’t even addressed to the President. It says ‘Dear Mr. Ford,’ which I thought was really funny,” says Gail Matarazzo, 44, of Oakhurst, who, as Gail O’Brien, was one of the letter’s 18 signers.

Little did O’Brien and her classmates know that their missive—hastily scrawled during recess— would make history 30 years later. The letter is prominently displayed in the Dear Uncle Sam section of Public Vaults, a free permanent exhibit that opened in 2004 at the U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C.

“We had done it as a letter-writing project,” says Joyce McGreevey, O’Brien’s third-grade teacher, now 78 and living in Ocean Township.

“I loved this letter from the first moment I read it,” says Miriam Kleiman, public affairs specialist at the National Archives. “I found it marvelous that the students in Mrs. McGreevey’s class directly asked President Ford the question that perplexes so many children.”

Alas, that question will continue to perplex future generations. While the Deal third graders were thrilled to hear back from the Ford White House, they received merely a generalized “thank-you-for-your-interest” type of response with no promises of a day devoted solely to kids.

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