On the third Sunday in June, Father’s Day honors the role fathers play in the family structure and society. The day recognizes not just fathers, but the father figures in our lives. These are the men we look up to who set solid examples for us and guide us throughout our lives.
Many families dedicate the day to their fathers and grandfathers. Whether they are first-time fathers just learning to change a diaper, or experienced fathers offering sage advice, the day celebrates everything a father is. Fathers from family to family play a variety of roles. They may be a caregiver, provider, or advisor. Some fathers are the strong, silent types. And yet others tell us stories for days. Fathers teach, guiding small hands as they hammer a nail or sail a kite.
We only look up to our fathers for so long. At some point, we begin to see things a little differently. But that’s not when we stop looking up to them. It’s at that point, we turn and look forward together.
FATHER’S DAY HISTORY
After the success of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day observances began to appear around the United States and world. However, the road to this national observance was not an easy one.
First Recorded Father’s Day
The first recorded celebration of Father’s Day happened after the Monograph Mining Disaster in West Virginia. The disaster killed 361 men and left around 1,000 children fatherless in December of 1907. Grace Golden Clayton suggested a day honoring all those fathers to her pastor, Robert Thomas Webb. On July 5th, 1908, the community gathered in honor of the men lost in the mining accident. The assembled at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church, in Fairmont, West Virginia.
Other Claims to Father’s Day
In 1910, the YMCA in Spokane, Washington recruited several clergymen with the help of Sonora Smart Dodd to honor fathers throughout the city. The date was set for June 5th but was later changed to June 19th (the 3rd Sunday in June), as many clergymen needed more time to prepare.
Harry C. Meek, a member of Lions Clubs International, claimed that he first had the idea for Father’s Day in 1915. Meek argued that the third Sunday of June was chosen because it was his birthday. The Lions Club has named him “Originator of Father’s Day.” Meek made many efforts to promote Father’s Day and make it an official holiday.
After a visit to Spokane, WA in 1916 to speak at a Father’s Day celebration, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make the day official, but Congress resisted fearing that the observance would become too commercialized. Once again, a president nearly intervened, but President Calvin Coolidge stopped short of issuing a national proclamation in 1924.
Sonora Smart Dodd continued to work to make Father’s Day a national observance. In 1938, she collaborated with the Father’s Day Council, a group of New York Men’s Wear Retailers, for the commercial promotion of the observance. Many Americans resisted the holiday for decades because of these attempts to commercialize the day.
It wasn’t until 1966, that President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers on the third Sunday in June. The holiday wasn’t made an annual event until President Richard Nixon signed into law, making it a permanent national holiday in 1972 over 50 years after Mother’s Day came into existence.
HOW TO OBSERVE #FathersDay
Celebrate your father. Explore his favorite hobbies or encourage him to share a story or two. Play a game or take him to one. Enjoy your time with your father and celebrate him. Share images of you with your father on social media and be sure to use #FathersDay too!