By Angel Wyrwas
Just as we have set aside Mother’s Day to honor mothers we have a day to acknowledge the important role played by the father. The modern version of Father’s Day celebration originated in United States of America and thereafter the tradition spread in countries around the world. Though there are many claims of who initiated the first Father’s Day the most widely accepted is that of Sonora Smart Dodd.
The idea of Father’s Day celebration originated in Sonora’s mind when she listened to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. At age 27, Sonora felt strongly for fathers because of the affection she received from her own father Mr. William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran. Sonora’s mother died while childbirth when she was just 16. Mr. Smart raised the newborn and five other children with love and care.
Inspired by Ms Anna Jarvis’s struggle to promote Mother’s Day, Ms Dodd began a rigorous campaign to celebrate Father’s Day in US. The Spokane Ministerial Association and the local Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) supported Sonora’s cause. As a result Spokane celebrated its first Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. Though there was initial hesitation the idea gained gradual popularity all over US and Father’s Day came to be celebrated in cities across the country.
Looking at the heightened popularity of Father’s Day in US, President Woodrow Wilson approved of this idea in 1916. President Calvin Coolidge too supported the idea of a national Father’s Day in 1924 to, “establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations”. After a protracted struggle of over four decades, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day in 1966. Then in 1972, President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father’s Day to be held on the third Sunday of June. Sonora Smart Dodd was honored for her contribution at the World’s Fair in Spokane in 1974. Mrs. Dodd died in 1978 at age 96.
The world over people take Father’s Day as an opportunity to thank fathers and pay tribute to them. On this day children present Father’s Day cards not just to their dads but also grandfathers, uncles, stepfathers or any other person who commands the position of a father in their life.