Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
Today is June 19 and it was this day in history in 1909 that the first observance of Father's Day occurred. Ironically, it was created by women. First in 1908, a woman who had lost her father in a mining accident along with two hundred fifty other men who were also fathers. This accident left about 1000 children without their fathers so a woman named Grace Golden Clayton asked that her church remember these fathers who lost their lives in the tragic accident.
However, it wasn't until 1909 that a woman named Sonora Dodd was sitting in a church service on Mother's Day and the service made her remember her own mother who died while giving birth to the sixth child in her family and she also remembered her father, a veteran of the Civil War, who raised the six children on his own in Spokane, Washington. Dodd thought that there should be a day called Father's Day to remember the fathers like her own.
She asked the local churches to do a sermon remembering father's and wanted it done on June 5, her father's birthday. The churches agreed and thought it was a good idea but June 5 was too soon for them to prepare their sermons so they agreed to do it on June 19. The celebrations continued for years after that until Sonora Dodd moved to Chicago to attend college and the celebrations stopped.
When Sonora Dodd finished school and went back home, she promoted the holiday again and this time she went nationally with it. She did this by trying to get businesses to help promote it. Businesses that would benefit from the holiday such as men's clothing stores and tobacco companies.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson spoke at the Father's Day celebration in Spokane and tried to get a bill through Congress to declare it a national holiday, but, Congress was afraid that it would become too commercialized so the bill failed. President Coolidge tried the same thing but got the same result.
It wasn't until Margaret Chase Smith, a senator from Maine petitioned for the holiday stating that it was unfair for a holiday to remember mothers and not one to remember fathers. President Johnson made a proclamation in 1966 declaring a holiday to remember fathers and President Nixon made Father's Day an official holiday for the country in 1972.
Father's Day is now celebrated on the third Sunday in June thanks to the women who made it possible.