National Good Neighbor Day
Also known as
National Next Door Neighbor Day (1971 to 1974)
the fourth Sunday in September (1971 to 2002)
annually on September 28th (since 2003)
In the early 1970s, Becky Mattson of Lakeside, Montana, came up with the idea for National Next Door Neighbor Day. In 1971, Mattson wrote a letter to President Richard Nixon asking for him to issue a declaration for the holiday. She sent copies of the letter to her representatives: Senator Mike Mansfield [D-MT] and Representative Dick Shoup [R-MT]. Mattson called it a "day of love and appreciation that sustains the will to live, to exercise brotherly love, cooperation in the building of new communities and a happier life quality." She said, "It is my hope that a National Next Door Neighbor Day will increase the appreciation and understanding of our fellow man and this appreciation and understanding will grow from neighbor to neighbor and generation to generation…"
Senator Mansfield introduced a resolution for the holiday in the Senate in late 1971 and tried again in early 1973. It was passed in the Senate in May. Senate Joint Resolution 25 became law on August 16, 1973. It says "the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation designating the fourth Sunday of September, 1973, as 'National Next Door Neighbor Day,'" and it calls "upon the people of the United States and interested groups and organizations to observe such day with appropriate ceremonies and activities."
Accordingly, President Nixon issued Proclamation 4235 for National Next Door Neighbor Day. It reads in part:
We cannot expect to have good neighbors, however, unless we are ready to be good neighbors, to go out of our way to extend friendship and support to those who live near us. Each of us, after all, is our neighbor's neighbor—and the responsibility for building a happier, livelier, fuller life in each of our communities must rest, in the end, with each of us.
It was with these important thoughts in mind that the Congress enacted Senate Joint Resolution 25, 93rd Congress, which authorizes and requests the President to issue a proclamation designating the fourth Sunday of September, 1973, as National Next Door Neighbor Day.
Now, Therefore, I, Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the fourth Sunday of September, 1973, as National Next Door Neighbor Day, and do call upon the people of the United States and interested groups and organizations to observe that day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
The name of the holiday soon changed. The following year, resolutions were introduced to designate the day as both National Next Door Neighbor Day and National Good Neighbor Day. President Gerald Ford Ford may have issued a proclamation for National Good Neighbor Day in 1975, and he issued Proclamation 4444 for National Good Neighbor Day in 1976. The proclamation says in part:
This Bicentennial Year is an appropriate time to emphasize that only by accepting our individual responsibility to be good neighbors can we survive as a strong, united Nation. By recognizing our dependence on each other, we preserve our independence as a people.
As we teach our children the cherished ideal of government by and for the people, let us begin by teaching them to know and care about the people next door. We must not only help each other, we must be willing to learn from each other so that we may remain forever united. Each individual American must make his or her own special effort to be a good neighbor….
I call upon every American man, woman, and child to be a good neighbor to those around them. I urge schools, churches, civic and community groups to engage in activities that will remind, encourage, and help each of us to be a good neighbor. And I call upon governors and mayors to urge their citizens to renew the good neighbor spirit.
As our Nation struggles to build friendship among the peoples of this world, we are mindful that the noblest human concern is concern for others.
Understanding, love and respect build cohesive families and communities. The same bonds cement our Nation and the nations of the world.
For most of us, this sense of community is nurtured and expressed in our neighborhoods where we give each other an opportunity to share and feel part of a larger family…
I call upon the people of the United States and interested groups and organizations to observe such day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
Numerous Congressional resolutions designating the fourth Sunday of September as National Good Neighbor Day were adopted in the 1970s and again in the 2000s. On the day, neighbors get to know each other, help each other, and have get-togethers. They are good neighbors!
How to Observe National Good Neighbor Day
Be a good neighbor! Here are some ideas:
- Attend or host a block party or neighborhood get-together.
- Meet up with a neighbor for coffee or dinner.
- Get together with a neighbor, take a picture, and post it online with the hashtag #GoodNeighborDay.
- Help out a neighbor.
- Use sidewalk chalk to decorate your neighborhood with positive messages.
- Share produce from your garden with your neighbors.
- Volunteer in a neighborhood garden.
- Meet and learn the names of neighbors you don't know.
- Make an emergency contact list with your neighbors.
- Pick up litter with a neighbor.
- Attend a neighborhood sporting or cultural event.
- Visit a park in your neighborhood.
- Buy something made locally.
- Restock your local little free library.
- Write a thank you note to a community leader.
- Sign the pledge to be a good neighbor, add a pin to the good neighbor map, and download the social media kit on the National Good Neighbor Day website.
- Utilize other resources on the National Good Neighbor Day website.