Father’s Day is observed annually on the third Sunday in June. This day is set aside to honor the role that fathers play in the family structure and society.
After the success of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day observations began to appear. The road to this national observance was not easy.
- The first recorded celebration of Father’s Day happened after the Monograph Mining Disaster, which killed 361 men and left around 1,000 children fatherless in December 1907. Grace Golden Clayton suggested to her pastor Robert Thomas Webb a day honoring all those fathers. On July 5th, 1908, a gathering in honor of these men took place at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church, in Fairmont, West Virginia.
- In 1910, the YMCA in Spokane, Washington recruited several clergymen with the help of Sonora Smart Dodd to honor fathers throughout the city. The date was set for June 5th but was later changed to June 19th (the 3rd Sunday in June) as many of the clergy needed more time to prepare.
- Harry C. Meek, a member of Lions Clubs International, claimed that he first had the idea for Father’s Day in 1915. Meek argued that the third Sunday of June was chosen because it was his birthday. The Lions Club has named him “Originator of Father’s Day.” Meek made many efforts to promote Father’s Day and make it an official holiday.
- After a visit to Spokane in 1916 to speak at a Father’s Day celebration, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted fearing that the observation would become too commercialized.
While American presidents unofficially supported the day, it was not until 1966 that it was put on the country’s official calendar by President Lyndon Johnson.
In 1972 it was made a permanent national holiday by President Richard Nixon, though in the UK it does not enjoy this status. Which, of course, is a scandalous oversight.
The move came after a campaign by a number of public figures, including Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who in 1957 wrote to congress: “Either we honour both our parents, mother and father, or let us desist from honouring either one.
“But to single out just one of our two parents and omit the other is the most grievous insult imaginable.”
We agree. Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy Father’s Day!