Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Father's Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Many countries celebrate it on the third Sunday of June but it is also celebrated widely on other days. Father's Day complements Mother's Day, a celebration honoring mothers.
Father's Day is a celebration of fathers inaugurated in the early twentieth century to complement Mother's Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting.
One early observance of a Father's Day took place in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908. It was organized by Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton, who wanted to celebrate the lives of the 210 fathers who had been lost in the Monongah Mining disaster several months earlier in Monongah, West Virginia, on December 6, 1907. It is possible that Clayton was influenced by the first celebration of Mother's Day that same year, just a few miles away. Clayton chose the Sunday nearest to the birthday of her recently deceased father. Unfortunately, the day was overshadowed by other events in the city, West Virginia did not officially register the holiday, and it was not celebrated again. Clayton's celebration was forgotten until 1972, when one of the attendants to the celebration saw Nixon's proclamation of Father's Day, and worked to recover its legacy. The celebration is now held every year in the Central United Methodist Church, as the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was torn down in 1922.
Credit for what we now recognize as the official Father's Day goes to Sonora Smart Dodd, born in Arkansas from Spokane, who invented her own celebration of Father's Day in 1910. Its first celebration was in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who reared his six children in Spokane, Washington. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father's birthday, she did not provide the organizers with enough time to make arrangements, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.
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. Two earlier attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress. 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". 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. In addition to Father's Day, International Men's Day is celebrated in many countries on November 19 for men and boys who are fathers.
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