Father’s Day—Not as lovely, but just as nice as Mother’s Day!

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In Summary: First issued on Monday, June 20, 2011,   six years since he penned his first column, when he finally got around to writing about papa, the author is as much an American as those he writes about in these lines. Within six years, he had written and re-issued two of the three columns he had penned about Mother’s Day. Surprised? In case you are, you may find it interesting to note the opposite roots to the acceptance of Mother's and Father's days in the United States. Perhaps it says something about Americans, the author, inclusive! But as the New York-based columnist Edwin Cooney writes, while the history of Father’s Day, as Mothers’ Day was initiated in love, it took a more circuitous path to full acceptance. Be it as it may, happy Fathers’ Day to all of you Dads out there!
The first celebration of Father’s Day in Spokane, Washington State took place on June 19, 1910

New York—While the history of Mother’s Day is the story of white and red carnations and sentimental; It’s the story of states, anxious to get in on the ground floor of the celebration of mother love, rapidly endorsing Mother’s Day; and it’s the story of the effort of Anna M. Jarvis, the founder, who wanted to stop its increasing commercialization, Father’s Day was also initiated in love but took a more circuitous path to full acceptance.  Initially celebrated in Fairmont, West Virginia, not far from Grafton, West Virginia (the home of Mother’s Day), Father’s Day was originally designed to celebrate the 210 lives lost in the December 6th, 1907 mining disaster in nearby Monongah, West Virginia.

Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton of Fairmont, West Virginia, was the actual founder of Father’s Day

The date scheduled for the first Father’s Day celebration was July 5th, 1908.  Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton, the actual founder of Father’s Day, wanted the first celebration to be as close to the birthday of her late father as possible.  That occasion was obviously swallowed up by the simultaneous Mother’s Day movement out of nearby Grafton.  Fairmont’s inaugural celebration of Father’s Day was lost to posterity until

1972. Two years later, Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Washington spearheaded a more successful national Father’s Day movement to celebrate her dad and all other dads.

Ms. Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Washington spearheaded a more successful national Father’s Day: movement

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to celebrate Father’s Day.  A bill for the national recognition of Father’s Day was introduced into Congress, but defeated out of fear that it might become a commercial venture.  The same thing happened a second time in 1916.  By the time of Congress's second rejection of Father’s Day; forty-five states had already passed Mother’s Day into state law. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge issued a resolution in support of a Father’s Day celebration but stopped short of having it introduced as an act of Congress.  "Ole man" — that’s how Coolidge privately referred to his male friends including members of his cabinet and his congressional colleagues — Calvin was too smart to trust Congress with such an important idea as Father’s Day!

President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to celebrate Father’s Day but failed to pass a law in Congress to designate a day to honor fathers
President Calvin Coolidge issued a resolution in support of a Father’s Day celebration in 1924

During the revenue-starved 1930s, the Menswear Retailers Association established a committee on the promotion of Father’s Day.  The committee's name was

Changed in 1938 to the National Father’s Day Council. Unlike Anna M. Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day founder Sonora Dodd didn’t at all object to the commercialization of Father’s Day!  Hence, shirts, ties, handkerchiefs, and hats sold almost as fast as flowers.  Good cigars probably weren’t far behind! In 1957, Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, one of the livelier members of the United States Senate, scolded her colleagues and everyone else for having short shifted American fathers during the past forty years of Mother’s Day celebrating.

Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine scolded her colleagues for short-changing American fathers for a long time

In 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson, the modern daddy of all good things, signed a resolution making Father’s Day the third Sunday in June. Not to be outdone, another good politician by the name of Richard Milhous Nixon who in 1972 was seeking a second term as President signed the bill into law designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.  Thus it might legitimately be observed that Father’s Day was, to a considerable degree, the brainchild of smart politicians and practical businessmen with that essential touch of “daughter love” thrown in to give it respectability!

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed, in 1966, a resolution making Father’s Day the third Sunday in June.

As stated above, most of the state legislatures were agreeing to honor mama’s love while Congress twice rejected the idea of honoring the father.  Might it

Be that mothers as loving nurturers elicit a stronger emotional reaction -- especially by male state legislators -- than practical and often demanding, busy fathers?  Since the commercialization of both motherhood and fatherhood was inevitable, shouldn't we face the rather uncomfortable realization that our most sincere sentiments are most powerfully expressed by the willing sacrifice of our most powerful possession: our money?

President Richard Milhous Nixon signed, in 1972 the bill into law designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.

Inevitably, some parents are more worthy of their children’s adoration than others, but since our sons and daughters freely withhold or proffer their love, our individual or collective worthiness of that love are legitimately and properly beyond our say-so.  Thus, we may accept that honor with those seemingly opposite feelings of humility and satisfaction.  I know, as surely as I live and breathe, that others have done more and done better by their children than I have by my two lads, but I can without the slightest doubt tell you this: If you’re a man, the highest honor you’ll ever receive is when someone calls you Dad!

 

Happy Fathers’ Day to all of you Dads out there!
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