This Sunday will mark the 45th official Fathers Day in the United States. Yes it is true, this is quite a young holiday.
A father is a treasure; a brother, a comfort; a friend is both.”
–Benjamin Franklin, American statesman (1706-1790).
“His heritage to his children wasn’t words or possessions, but an unspoken treasure, the treasure of his example as a man and a father.”
–Will Rogers, Jr. (1879–1935).
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
–Mark Twain (1835–1910)
This Sunday will mark the 45th official Fathers Day in the United States. Yes it is true, this is quite a young holiday. It was first proposed 117 years ago, but it wasn't signed in to law and designated on the third Sunday of June, until 1972.
I love remembering my father, the rock of the family. A stalwart educator and community leader and well, a really funny guy! I have missed Bob Hawkins, terribly every day since he passed in 2007 - This will mark my ninth Father's Day without him. I have to admit, as we all do, that at 14, most of us felt a little like Mark Twain did about his father. But as we age we always appreciate the things we dearly miss.
Father's Day in the Hawkins house went something like this, Dad was not required to do any chores, and he could if he wished, spend at least part of the morning in his bathrobe in his beloved recliner. Dinner would be chicken fried steak, French fries and an apple pie for dessert. Oh yes, and a big jar full of iced tea would be by his side.
My sister Susan always promised a foot rub, something he really enjoyed. He also enjoyed his family, like so many fathers will do this Sunday.
Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day has a history that goes beyond greeting cards. This holiday took root as Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd sat listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. Her father, William Smart, had raised his six children alone on his farm in Washington after his wife died giving birth to their sixth child. So Mrs. Dodd thought it might be nice to honor fathers as well.
Mrs. Dodd proposed to the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA that they celebrate a “father’s day.” She chose the 5th of June because it was her father’s birthday.
Within a few months, Sonora had convinced the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA to set aside a Sunday in June to celebrate The ministers chose the third Sunday in June so that they would have more time after Mother’s Day (the second Sunday in May) to prepare their sermons. So it was that on June 19, 1910, Sonora delivered presents to handicapped fathers, boys from the YMCA decorated their lapels with fresh-cut roses (red for living fathers, white for the deceased), and the city’s ministers devoted their homilies to fatherhood.
The widely publicized events in Spokane struck a chord that reached all the way to Washington, D.C., and Sonora’s celebration started its path to becoming a national holiday.
• In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the day.
• Eight years later, President Calvin Coolidge signed a resolution in favor of Father’s Day “to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”
• In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed an executive order that the holiday be celebrated on the third Sunday in June.
Under President Richard Nixon, in 1972, Congress passed an act officially making Father’s Day a national holiday. (Six years later, Sonora died at age 96.)
As always, if you have a story idea, a comment or just want to visit, you can find me, just around the corner.
Celinda Hawkins is the managing editor of the Runnels County Register. You can contact her at 325-365-3501 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.