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The Rocky Road to Father’s Day

June 11th, 2011 by Hank

Sunday June 19 will be Father’s Day. National Father’s Day originated in Spokane Washington in June 1910 — more than a hundred years ago. It was proposed as a special day one Sunday afternoon by Sonora Dodd after she attended a church memorial service honoring mothers. She wanted to honor her own father. Her Methodist Episcopal church adopted it as a day of remembrance for all fathers. However, a Father’s Day holiday was not easily accepted across the nation. The idea was often met with laughter. It was the target of much satire, derision and jokes in newspapers.

A bill to recognize it as national holiday was introduced in Congress three years after the Spokane church adopted it, but the bill failed to pass. President Woodrow Wilson campaigned in Spokane at a Father’s Day celebration in 1916 to make it official, but Congress resisted again, fearing that it would become commercialized. President Coolidge proposed in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation, but was ignored.

Finally, in 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal sharply accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers Almost ten years later President Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers. After 62 years of uphill struggle, the day was made a permanent national holiday by President Nixon, who signed it into law in 1972.

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