As we (finally!) ring in a new year and say goodbye and good riddance to 2020, we at PLTC and the PLTC Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DE&I) want to bring everyone’s attention to the 2021 Diversity Calendar – which has increased significance for understanding and celebrating diversity in the United States.
While holidays and celebrations may take many forms and may be celebrated to varying degrees, in a country as diverse as the United States, there are recognitions that are as varied as the population, from month long celebrations to more specific observances. Some are more somber remembrances or sacrifice or tragedy, while others represent achievements. Still others focus on a person, religion or heritage.
It is not possible to cover every event; however, we would like to highlight some of those events that are recognized by many. Here are some key dates for the coming month of January that focus on diverse segments we feel are worth knowing about for the work that we do with our older adult clients:
Notable January 2021 Holidays and Observances:
January 4 – World Braille Day: Held on January 4th of each year to commemorate the birthdate of Louis Braille, the inventor of braille, World Braille Day is observed in order to raise awareness of the importance of braille as a means of communication, issues of accessibility and independence, and the full realization of the human rights for blind and partially sighted people.
January 17 – World Religion Day: Every year on the third Sunday of January, people from all cultures and backgrounds come together to celebrate the commonalities of different faiths around the world, of which there are over 4,000 recognized religions. The holiday was initiated by the Baháʼí in 1950 to promote interfaith harmony and understanding, as their faith emphasizes the importance of universal equality and unity.
January 18 – Martin Luther King Day: The third Monday of January each year honors the life of American clergyman and activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. Best known for the use of nonviolent civil disobedience as a means to advance the civil rights cause, he was one of the civil rights movement’s most prominent leaders from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. The date is celebrated as Civil Rights Day in some states, and commemorates Dr. King’s birth.
January 27 – International Holocaust Remembrance Day: This international day of remembrance is held each year to commemorate the memory of the over 6 million Jews and 11 million other victims of the Holocaust. It is, to quote the remarks of former president Barack Obama, a time to “mourn the loss of lives, celebrate those who saved them, honor those who survived, and contemplate the obligations of the living.” It was on January 27th in 1945 that Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to produce uncertainty, stress, and trauma in our communities. All of us who work in healthcare have been touched by this pandemic. We’ve lost people we cared for; we’ve sacrificed time with our loved ones. Many of us have gotten COVID or lost a family member to it. Despite experiencing months of unspeakable tragedy and the challenges we are all facing every day, this is also a time that is bringing out the best in many people—from the first-responders fighting on the front-lines to the essential workers providing food, products, and services. As our own wise colleague Dr. Eleanor Feldman Barbera recently reminded us: “Let us hope the losses and trials of the pandemic lead to increased recognition of our value and interconnectedness, more compassionate care for elders, and to post-traumatic growth.”
We are all in this together. In the meantime, please stay safe and healthy, and we wish you all the best for a brighter year ahead.
-The PLTC DE&I Committee