Father’s Day is observed annually on the third Sunday in June. This day is set aside to honor the role that fathers play in the family structure and society.
After the success of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day observances began to appear. The road to this national observance was not easy.
- The first recorded celebration of Father’s Day happened after the Monograph Mining Disaster, which killed 361 men and left around 1,000 children fatherless in December 1907. Grace Golden Clayton suggested to her pastor Robert Thomas Webb a day honoring all those fathers. On July 5th, 1908, a gathering in honor of these men took place at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church, in Fairmont, West Virginia.
- In 1910, the YMCA in Spokane, Washington recruited several clergymen with the help of Sonora Smart Dodd to honor fathers throughout the city. The date was set for June 5th but was later changed to June 19th (the 3rd Sunday in June) as many clergymen needed more time to prepare.
- Harry C. Meek, a member of Lions Clubs International, claimed that he first had the idea for Father’s Day in 1915. Meek argued that the third Sunday of June was chosen because it was his birthday. The Lions Club has named him “Originator of Father’s Day.” Meek made many efforts to promote Father’s Day and make it an official holiday.
- After a visit to Spokane in 1916 to speak at a Father’s Day celebration, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted fearing that the observance would become too commercialized.
- President Calvin Coolidge stopped short of issuing a national proclamation in 1924
- Sonora Smart Dodd continued to work to make Father’s Day a national observance. In 1938, she collaborated with the Father’s Day Council, a group of New York Men’s Wear Retailers for the commercial promotion of the observance. Many Americans resisted the holiday for decades because of these attempts to commercialize the day.
- In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers on the third Sunday in June.
- President Richard Nixon signed into law a permanent national holiday in 1972 over 50 years after Mother’s Day came into existence.
Father’s Day is now celebrated in many countries around the world.
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