By K.P. Sander
Fire up the barbeques, Father’s Day is coming! Celebrated on the third Sunday in June, the annual remembrance honors fathers, fatherhood, and the influence of fathers in society.
Wikipedia says the day was inaugurated in the U.S. in the early 20th century to complement Mother’s Day, and the first observance was probably held on July 5, 1908 in Fairmont, West Virginia.
A woman named Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the loss of her own father in December of 1907, when a mining disaster in nearby Monongah killed 361 men (250 of whom were fathers) leaving nearly 1,000 children fatherless. Clayton asked her pastor to help honor those fathers, but the event – held that next July in the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South – was overshadowed in Fairmont by Independence Day, and was not celebrated again for many years. The original sermon had been lost.
Another celebration cropped up in 1910, when Sonora Smart Dodd wanted to honor her father – Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart – who raised six children in Spokane, Washington as a single parent. Several local clergymen accepted the idea and on June 19 sermons honoring fathers were presented throughout the city.
In 1913, a bill introducing national recognition of the holiday was submitted in Congress. President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make it official, especially since he was speaking at a Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, but Congress resisted, trying to avoid commercialization. They continued to be successful in avoiding the topic, and in 1957, Maine Senator, Margaret Chase Smith, accused Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years (in a discriminatory proposal she wrote wondering why mothers were the only ones celebrated).
Finally, in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation. President Richard Nixon signed it into law six years later, and in 1972, dads finally got their day.
So, dads, sorry it took so long, but Happy Father’s Day…you’re the greatest!
“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.” “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We’re raising boys.”
-Harmon Killebrew, American Professional Baseball Player