Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Father's Day and Sonora Smart Dodd

Father's Day followed Mother's Day.  It seems there was not as much sentiment surrounding Father's Day, and since people were not inclined to buy Father's Day flowers it lagged behind.  However the first event honoring fathers in the United States took place in 1908 in a West Virginia church, which in fact was a commemoration for 362 men who had died in a coal mine accident.  However the following year, Sonora Smart, whose mother had passed away, and she and her five brothers were raised by their widowed father, decided something should be done to honor fathers.  She approached clergy and government officials,  and June 19, 1910 became the first Father's Day honored in America.  The governor had proclaimed Father's Day as a state holiday.  The idea did not take off quickly.  Many were skeptical of the idea, thinking it was just a form of commercialism.  In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson honored the day by participating in the Washington celebration via telegraph.  In 1920 President Calvin Coolidge encouraged states to proclaim the day a holiday.  During WWII father's Day became a national institution.  It was a way to honor the men who were serving or who had served.  However it wasn't until 1972, via executive proclamation that Richard Nixon established the Holiday as the third Sunday in June.  It is estimated that Americans spend $ 1 billion annually on the holiday.  Sonora Smart Dodd was still living at the time.  She passed away in 1978 at age 96.

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