Happy Father's Day

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Father and sons


Father's Day has multiple origins, but is generally agreed to have been established in Spokane. The original celebration was inspired by a single father of six.

On June 19, 1910, a Father's Day celebration was held at the YMCA in Spokane, Washington, by Sonora Smart Dodd. Her father, the civil war veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there.

Dodd was a member of Old Centenary Presbyterian Church (now Knox Presbyterian Church), where she first proposed the idea. After hearing a sermon about Mother's Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday to honor them.

Although she initially suggested June 5, her father's birthday, the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday in June. Several local clergymen accepted the idea, and on June 19, 1910, the first Father's Day, "sermons honoring fathers were presented throughout the city".

However, in the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, and it faded into relative obscurity, even in Spokane.

In the 1930s, Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level. She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional presents for fathers.

By 1938, she had the help of the Father's Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men's Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the holiday's commercial promotion.

Americans resisted the holiday for its first few decades, viewing it as nothing more than an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother's Day, and newspapers frequently featured cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes. However, the said merchants remained resilient and even incorporated these attacks into their advertisements. By the mid-1980s, the Father's Day Council wrote, "(...) [Father's Day] has become a Second Christmas for all the men's gift-oriented industries."

A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak at a Father's Day celebration and he wanted to make it an officially recognized federal holiday, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized.

U.S. president Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed throughout the entire nation, but he stopped short at issuing a national proclamation. Two earlier attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress.

In 1957, Maine senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a Father's Day proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus "[singling] out just one of our two parents".

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

--Selections from Wikipedia article



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