By Iride Aparicio

Father and Daughter

SILICON VALLEY-- The celebration of what we know as FATHERS' DAY was started in the United States in the 20th Century. The idea to honor FATHERS and  celebrate fatherhood, to complement MOTHERS' DAY,  was introduced by  SONORA SMART DODD, a woman who was born in Arkansas but was living in Spokane, Washington at the time.

SONORA was a a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in 1909 after hearing a sermon, in which her pastor talked about ANNA JARVIS, the founder of MOTHERS' DAY, she told her pastor that, in her opinion, fathers should have a similar holiday to honor them, and even suggested the celebration should be on June 5th, to honor her father's birthday. SONORA's  father , WILLIAM JACKSON SMART, was a Civil War Veteran who all his children admired because after losing his wife, apparently at child birth, he had raised six children alone.

The pastor liked the idea, but suggested a change of date because the pastors at the church did not have the time to prepare the "proper" sermons  for  June 5th, so, the date for FATHERS' DAY celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June and founded in Spokane Washington at the YMCA in 1910.

In 1913, a bill to accord he holiday national recognition was introduced in Congress. In 1916, President WOODROW WILSON went to Spokane to speak in a FATHER's day celebration. He even wanted it to make the holiday "official" but Congress resisted.

Initially, the celebration did not have success, and faded into obscurity, so in 1920 when she was studying in the Art Institute of  Chicago, DODD stopped promoting the Celebration. In l924U.S. President CALVIN COOLIDGE trying to revive it, recommended that the day be observed by the nation , but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation so, the celebrating faded.

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Ten years later, in 1930, when DODD returned to Spokane she started promoting the celebration again, but this time raising its awareness to the national level because  by now she had the support of the trade groups who would benefit with the holiday: the manufactures of suits, ties, pants tobacco pipes and any traditional item which could be used (and purchased) to celebrate FATHERS' DAY. Eight years later, in 1938, she even got the help of the FATHER'S DAY Council, founded by the New York Association of Men's Wear Retailers  to consolidate and systematize the commercial promotion. So, by now, all the trade groups were promoting the event.

In spite of that, Americans continue resisting the holiday for a few decades. Their reason was that they continue perceiving it as an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of MOTHERS' DAY. Instead of praise, the newspapers frequently gave the day cynical and sarcastic attacks.

In 1957, however, Maine Senator MARGARET CHASE SMITH rescued the celebration, when she wrote a proposal to Congress accusing them of ignoring FATHERS' DAY for forty years while honoring MOTHERS' DAY, thus, singling out one of our two parents. After Congress passed a proposal, recognizing FATHERS's DAY as a day to give honor to hour fathers, the day began to be celebrated by some Americans..

But it was not until l966, when President LYNDON B. JOHNSON issued the first presidential proclamation honoring FATHERS and designed the third Sunday in June as FATHERS' DAY that the holiday was fully accepted by the American people. Six years later, in 1972, when then President RICHARD NIXON signed the proclamation into law, that FATHERS's DAY was made made a National  Holiday.



On  FATHERS DAY 2020  (June 21st)  because of the restrictions imposed by the Pandemic, we cannot have a family  gathering, honor our fathers with  gifts,  taken them out to eat  at a restaurant  or cook his favorite meal at home.  If our fathers don't live with us, we may not even been able to visit them (for their own protection) and give our father a hug.  Things have changed drastically in the whole world.

When each day,  just by going to the store  to purchase our groceries , we may be  jeopardizing  our lives because we  are being  threatened by a virus which could kill us, we may have to be careful.

But we still can honor our fathers on  FATHERS' DAY 2020, in a different way. In the privacy of our own homes, we could  pray for all the fathers here and around the world, who continue working in their different professions, in spite of the pandemic, to  OUR FATHER in heaven.


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