Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Trip Around the Sun: Day Eight

Today is the 100th celebration of Father's Day, honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Father's Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June in 55 countries and on other days elsewhere.

It occurred to me today that for much of my life I made sure my father and The Don's father were remembered on Father's Day. They are no longer with us but in their place are our son and our son-in-law...and, of course, The Don.

We keep our celebration simple: cards, a small gift and a nice dinner. Since it's summer and the weather has been wonderful, we were able to cook steaks on the grill and add some roasted vegetables on the side. A simple but really tasty meal.

As I did a bit of research about Father's Day, I was amazed that it was such a struggle to accomplish recognition of the day as a national holiday. It seems unbelievable that it took from 1910, the year of the first observance, to 1972 when President Nixon made it a permanent holiday. Here's the story:

The first observance of Father's Day is believed to have been held on June 19, 1910 through the efforts of Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, who wanted a celebration that honored fathers like her own father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran who was left to raise his family alone when his wife died giving birth to their sixth child.

During that first celebration, young members of the YMCA in Spokane went to church wearing roses: a red rose to honor a living father, and a white rose to honor a deceased one. Sonora Dodd traveled through the city in a horse-drawn carriage, carrying gifts to fathers confined indoors by illness.

It seems that the celebration of Mother's Day grew in popularity while a celebration of Father's Day stalled. A bill to give national recognition to the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak at a Father's Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted.

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. In 1966, President Lyndon 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.

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there...but especially to The Don, Vince and Steve...thanks for all you do!

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