Sonora Smart Dodd

With our look back at the history of Mother’s Day last month, we clearly need to give the Dads equal time and talk about the history of Father’s Day. 

Finding a Champion

As with Anna Jarvis’ campaign for Mother’s Day, Father's Day found a champion in Sonora Smart Dodd.  Father’s Day began Spokane, Washington with the first celebration in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Sonora’s father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. After hearing a sermon about Jarvis' Mother's Day at Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909, Sonora told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. 

Limited Success

Father’s Day did not have much success initially. In the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying in the Art Institute of Chicago.  As a result, Father’s Day faded into relative obscurity, even in Spokane. In the 1930s Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, with the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday - for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present to fathers. Since 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 commercial promotion.  

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 in a Father's Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized. US President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. 

Presidential Support

In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing 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. 

Gaining Popularity

Father's Day Festival has gained amazing popularity over the years. The festival is a secular one and is celebrated not just in US but in a large number of countries around the world including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and India though on different dates. World over people take Father's Day as an opportunity to thank fathers and pay tribute to them. 

Dean and Draper

We salute the fathers around us and across the country on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 17, 2018.  Thank you for your influence, support, and dedication to parenthood.

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Sources: Wikipedia, fathersdaycelebration.com

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