Old-Time Celebration

If you've been depressed since the clock ran out on United Nations celebrations such as "The Year of the Family" (1994) and the year of "Eradication of Poverty" (1996), cheer up. The U.N. recently teamed up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to anoint 1999 the "International Year of Older Persons."

"This is a U.N. year unlike any other," declared USDA Deputy Secretary Richard Rominger at a kickoff celebration in Washington, D.C. "Longevity is a way of life."

The U.N. has issued guidelines for how one might celebrate the International Year of Older Persons, whose mantra is "Towards a Society of All Ages." Given the source, it's not surprising that the proposals lean heavily toward long, tedious meetings, preferably held in expensive settings and at taxpayer expense. Among the suggestions: Invite mayors, community leaders, writers, homemakers, and caregivers to share their views on "old age in a new age." If that doesn't move you, then try this: Convene a national conference on "agri-tools for elders."

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