Happy Father’s Day
by JoAnne Disney
June 11, 2014 • 284 views
History tells us that the Father’s day “campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm” as celebrating mothers. On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event honoring fathers, “a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah.” However, it was only celebrated once. Then, in 1909, a woman from Spokane, Washington by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd tried to establish a day to honor fathers. She was successful, but the sources vary as to the first Father’s Day celebrated. According to Ellen Jackson, “Father’s Day was first observed on June 13, 1910 in Spokane, Washington.” But the website www.History.com says “Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910.”
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson “honored the day by using telegraph signals to unhurl a flag in Spokane.” In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge “urged state governments to observe Father’s Day.” But, many men did not favor this idea. Some felt it wasn’t “manly” or another attempt “to commercialize a day to sell more products that the father often ended up paying for himself.”
Throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s there was a movement to do away with both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. An activist and radio performer, Robert Spere wanted to have a “Parent’s Day.” But the Great Depression came and the idea lost ground. Retailers rallied in support of Father’s Day to get people to shop for gifts. Then, when WWII began, advertisers pushed Father’s Day as “a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday, but it was a national institution.” Then, in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson made Father’s Day a national holiday. Finally, “in 1972 President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last.”
So to all fathers, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!