Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day - a Brief History

Father's Day or Fathers' Day celebrates fatherhood and male parenting. Its orgin has been traced back to the early twentieth century. This year, the date falls on June 19th, but worldwide the date can vary. Traditionally, Father's Day involves gift-giving and special dinners to honor thy father.

According to Wikipedia, the first observance of Father's Day took place in Fairmont, West Virginia 103-years ago on July 5, 1908. Grace Golden Clayton wanted to celebrate or memorialize the lives of the 210 fathers who had been lost in a Monongah mining disaster. Clayton chose the Sunday nearest to the birthday of her recently deceased father.

However, credit for Father's Day went to Sonora Dodd from Spokane, Washington for a long time. Dodd independently created the celebratory event two years later. Clayton's celebration was officially waylaid until 1972, when one of the attendants to the celebration saw Nixon's proclamation of Father's Day, and worked to recover its legacy. When the truth was uncovered, the emphasis returned to the day's genisis in Fairmont. The celebration is now held every year in the Central United Methodist Church, as the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was torn down in 1922. Fairmont is now promoted as the official "Home of the First Father's Day Service".

It took some time and manuvering on Capitol Hill (like always) to get the day officially recognized. A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson attended the Father's Day event in Spokane to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized.

Another president met with the same resistance in the 20s. President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. Two subsequent attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress.

It took a Senator from Maine to guilt Congress into form. In 1957, Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal and accussed Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus "[singling] out just one of our two parents". Finally 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.

by Nathaniel Hines posted at:

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