Vicki Rolens, Managing Director of the Federation of American Consumers and Travelers (FACT) learned a little about the history of Father’s Day.
In my experience, Father’s Day has always seemed an afterthought, especially when one considers the response to Mother’s Day. Of course, becoming a father does seem to require less physical labor than motherhood. Nonetheless, there is some actual history involved (the day was not entirely the creation of the greeting card industry).
Father’s Day, as we have come to know it, appears to have its origins in Spokane, Washington. Ms. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd was listening to a Mother’s Day sermon back in 1909 when she recalled that her own mother had, unfortunately, died in childbirth leaving her and five siblings to be lovingly raised by her father, William Jackson Smart.
Inspired by the efforts of Ms. Anna Jarvis’s attempts to promote Mother’s Day, Ms. Dodd started a campaign to establish Father’s Day by enlisting the help of the Spokane Ministerial Association and the local YMCA, which resulted in the first Father’s Day on June 19, 1910.
The idea of Father’s Day started to catch on. Noticing the popularity, President Woodrow Wilson approved of the idea in 1916 as did Calvin Coolidge in 1924. Coolidge felt that such recognition might “establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations”.
After four decades, President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation in 1966 declaring the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. This establishment of the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day was further reinforced by President Nixon in 1972. So, it appears that Father’s Day was not invented by the greeting card industry….or was it? It seems that archeologists, studying the ruins of Babylon, found a 4,000 year old message on a card (Hallmark??) made out of clay on which a boy called Elmesu wished his father good health and a long life. Happy Father’s Day to all.
Let’s see…a bouquet of roses, or maybe just a heartfelt “Thanks, Dad”!