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The Story Behind Father’s Day

by MLN Staff

Father’s Day has been celebrated in the U.S. for over 100 years. And in that time, millions of children have thanked their dads for their undying love. As you honor your father this weekend why not take a closer look at the story behind Father’s Day holiday.

The Story Behind Father’s Day

The grassroots campaign for Father’s Day began with Mother’s Day and an unfortunate mining accident. The origin of Mother’s Day dates back to the 1860s. It was originally a way for the mothers of Confederate and Union soldiers to come together. But by the late 1800s, it was a holiday that honored all mothers. It’s in this spirit of honoring beloved parents that a small West Virginian church decided to have a special service for the fathers that were killed in a local coal-mining explosion, becoming the nation’s event that specifically honored fathers.

Sonora Smart Dodd’s Impact

These events inspired a 27-year-old woman named Sonora Smart Dodd. When she was 16 years old, Sonora’s mother died in childbirth. This left Sonora’s widowed father, William Jackson Smart, to raise Sonora and her five brothers. Smart was a hard worker, farmer, and Civil War veteran and Sonora believed it was important for fathers to have a holiday that honored them too.

So, Sonora campaigned, spreading her ideas to government officials and churches throughout the state of Washington. And in the end, her hard work paid off. The governor of Washington state declared America’s first Father’s Day in 1910. From that initial event, interest in Father’s Day grew. Sonora initially suggested that Father’s Day be June 5th, in honor of her father’s birthday, but communities started celebrating it on the third Sunday in June which was similar to Mother’s Day.

Presidents and Father’s Day

Over time presidents like President Wilson and President Coolidge expressed their appreciation for the holiday. In 1924, President Coolidge said that the national event would help “establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.” Millions celebrated Father’s Day, but it didn’t become official until President Lyndon Johnson declared in 1966 that the third Sunday in June to be Father’s Day. And it became a permanent national holiday with President Richard Nixon’s proclamation in 1972. Sonora Smart Dodd was 90 years old at the time.

Over the past four decades, the Father’s Day celebrations have grown. And today, over 70 million fathers in America will be expecting ties, cool power tools, and barbecue. Want to learn more about Father’s Day or do you need some tips for making this Father’s Day really special? Consider this link.

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