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18 June 2017

How Fathers’ Day Celebration Came About

By Isaac Amoah-Asare

 

There are many theories associated with the observance of Father’s Day; the two theories which are quite known prevalent for the celebration of the first Father’s Day celebration in the United States are as stated. The first theory to regarding the celebration of Father’s Day was established on June 19, 1908 in the State of Washington when an independent celebration of Father’s Day, a few weeks later, took place on 5th July, 1908 in Fairmont, West Virginia.

 

Hence the first Father’s Day was recognized in West Virginia, while a church service was going on at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South. Grace Golden Clayton, who reportedly suggested the service to the pastor at Williams Memorial, is said to have been inspired to celebrate fathers post a mine explosion, a few months before, in the nearby community of Monongah. This explosion ended 361 lives, many of them fathers and recent immigrants to the States from Italy.

 

Another influencing force which further reinforced the establishment of Father’s Day was that of Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd. Dodd thought of the idea for Father’s Day while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. Having been raised by her father, Henry Jackson Smart, after her mother died, Sonora wanted her father to know how special he was to her. It was her father that made all the parental sacrifices and was, in the eyes of his daughter, a courageous, selfless, and loving man. Hence, since Sonora’s father was born in June, so she chose to hold the first Father’s Day celebration in Spokane in June. Although she initially thought of celebrating Father’s Day on June 5 in Spokane (which was her father’s birthday), the other people involved did not agree they would have enough time for an appropriate celebration.

 

Thus, the first Father’s Day was held instead on the third Sunday in the month of June. The first June Father’s Day was celebrated on 19th June, 1908, in Spokane, WA, at the Spokane YMCA. Politician and orator, William Jennings Bryan appreciated the concept immediately and began extending his support widely. Father’s Day was then initiated by President Woodrow Wilson, who was the first U.S. President to celebrate it on June 1916, a party his family hosted.

 

President Calvin Coolidge declared it a national holiday in 1924. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson, by official order, made Father’s Day a holiday to be celebrated on the third Sunday of June. The holiday was not formally considered until 1972, when it was officially acknowledged by a Congressional Act setting it permanently on the third Sunday in June all over the nation.

 

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