This Sunday, June 19th marks the 101st anniversary of Father's
June 1910 was
the first time Father's Day was held, though it didn't become an official U.S.
holiday until 1972.
origin of Father's Day is not clear.
of Father's Day
There is some suggestion that the
concept of "a special day that celebrates the contributions that fathers
and father figures make for their children's lives" comes from a 1908
memorial service held for a large group of miners, many of them fathers, who were
killed in a mining accident in West Virginia the previous year.
Some say the
tradition of Father's Day began as a complimentary celebration to Mother's Day,
which was first recognized in 1908 as the result of the work of Anna Jarvis who
pushed for the Mother's Day recognition.
Sonora Smart Dodd was inspired by the work of Jarvis and wanted to see similar
recognition given to fathers.
The story goes that
after Sonora Smart Dodd's mother passed away, her father raised Sonora and her
five brothers and sisters by himself. This was unheard of at the time, as most
widowers were socially forced to place their young children in the care of
another woman, by either turning them over to a female relative or friend,
placing them in an orphanage, or by immediately remarrying so the children
would have a new mother.
defied the norm and raised all six of his children by himself. Sonora felt her
father deserved recognition for what he had done, and inspired by the success of
Anna Jarvis, was able to garner support for a Father's Day recognition in
years that followed, several attempts were made to make Father's Day an
official U.S. holiday with national recognition. In 1913 a bill was introduced
in Congress calling for a national recognition holiday for Father's Day, but it
failed to advance. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make it official,
but Congress re
fused to pass it fearing the day would become "a
In 1924 President
Calvin Coolidge pushed for a national day of observation for Father's Day, but
failed to issue an official proclamation. Several other attempts in following
years also failed.
It wasn't until
1966 that President Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation
honoring fathers, by designation the third Sunday in June to be officially
proclaimed as "Father's Day." Then in 1972 Congress finally passed a
law making it an official and permanent U.S. holiday.
of Father's Day
Early on, there
was strong interest in commercializing Father's Day.
advantage of the annual Father's Day recognition by promoting the sale of men's
clothing, and in 1938 the Associated Men's Wear Retailers even renamed the
National Father's Day Committee in New York City to the "National Council
for the Promotion of Father's Day" with the goal of boosting sales of men's
And it worked!
Each year, the
commercial merchandizing of Father's Day grew, and grew, and grew, so that by
the end of the twentieth century the retailer's "National Council for the
Promotion of Father's Day" could proclaim that they had achieved their
goal: the one-day event had become a three-week commercial event, a
years later, it seems little has changed.
Father's Day is more revered and heralded by the makers of men's clothing
(neckties especially), hardware and tool shops, electronics stores, sporting
goods, and the "Big Box" retailers, than by fathers themselves.
For weeks now
we have been bombarded with commercials, advertisements, and special Father's
Day promotions cajoling us to "Give Dad the best ," and to
"remember Dad on his special day with a gift from . . ." and so on.
Father's Day in the Johnson Family
Well, I'm not
buying it, and don't want KatyAnna or Mary Ann to buy into it either.
Instead, I want
them to follow "the Johnson Family Father's Day Tradition."
growing up we never purchased presents for Dad on Father's Day, for we knew
that if we did, he would be disappointed and view it as a betrayal of his
me anything for Father's Day," he would say in his gruff voice.
money. I have no use for more 'things.' Besides, anything I might need or want
I can get for a fraction of the cost at the Thrift Shop. If I want more
neckties I can get them for two-bits a bagful -- in assorted colors, sizes, and
styles, too!" he would chuckle.
buy me anything for Father's Day," he would say. "It's just another
gimmick by the merchants to get you to spend my hard earned money."
if you want to GIVE me something for Father's Day," he said, his voice
softening, "then MAKE me something, or give me some help around the house,
or help your mother and each other a little more. I'd really appreciate
And so each Father's
Day, we'd make him something -- cookies, a cake, a magazine rack, a drawing, a
painting, a poem, a song, and of course, handmade Father's Day cards inscribed
with special messages of love and appreciation as well as promises to BE good
and to DO good.
And he always smiled when we gave him these things.
So that's what I'm
hoping for this Father's Day -- something made with the hand or with the heart,
and a promise to continue to do good.
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