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The Origin of Father's Day

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the origin of Mother’s Day. For some reason I have become interested in the history, origin, and legacy of various holidays. Two years ago I wrote on the origin of Easter and Christmas. This year I wrote about Memorial Day and Mother’s Day, so I figured I would explain the history of Father’s Day.

Someone once told me that Mother’s Day was established as a holiday in order to help greeting card manufacturers sell more cards and Father's Day was established because Father’s were jealous about Mother’s Day. Well, contrary to popular misconception, neither of these explanations are correct. In fact when “Mother’s Day” and "Father's Day" were first proposed as holidays there were no greeting cards!

Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington, first proposed the idea of a "Father's Day" in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart. William Smart, a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd's mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington state.

It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent. Mrs. Dodd was so proud of her father, and so focused on his sacrifice that she wanted a special day to recognize him and all other men that are worthy of the title “father.”

After much lobbying and by word of mouth, Mrs. Dodd’s dream became true. The first Father's Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. At about the same time in various towns and cities across America other people were beginning to celebrate a "Father's Day" as well.

In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father's Day, but was unable to produce proper legislation. Finally in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day and as Paul Harvey would say, “Now you know the rest of the story . . . . .”

Father's Day has become a day to not only honor your father, but all men who act as a father figure. Stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and adult male friends are all be honored on Father's Day. What are your plans for Father’s Day? Why don’t you honor the man who is honored to be called your dad? Have a great week!!!

You are loved.

Dr. Ray Reynolds

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