What is the origin of
Father's Day?

Of Spokane, Washington
Sonora Louise Smart Dodd

Just like Mother's Day, Father's Day is celebrated in every part of the world. In the United
States, Canada and most countries in Asia, Father's Day is the third Sunday in June.
Although Father's Day is not observed on the same day in some countries (like Spain
and Belgium where Father's Day falls on March 19th, Sweden on the second Sunday of
November, and New Zealand on the first Sunday of September), expressing gratitude
and appreciation for dads with a special day seems to be universal. Today, Father's Day
is not only a day to honor fathers, but one to show respect for all father figures. Families
honor grandfathers, stepfathers, uncles and other adult male figures that are special to them.

Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, of Spokane, Washington, was 27 when she listened to a Sunday
sermon about Mother's Day in 1909 and wondered why there was no corresponding day for fathers.
(Mother's Day observances began in 1908 in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to Hallmark
Cards in Kansas City.) She was just 16 when her own father, Civil War veteran William Jackson
Smart, was widowed when his wife died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise
the newborn and his five other children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington state.

Sonora Dodd began her campaign after that sermon. She believed that the nation did not
show enough respect to fathers, citing such popular songs of the day as "Everybody Works
But Father," she promoted Father's Day out of love for her father.

"One group of men conventioneers laughed and said they didn't want a Father's Day," according
to an article in The Spokesman-Review. "A national fishing day would be better, they told
her." She persuaded the Spokane Ministerial Association and local YMCA to pass a resolution
in support of Father's Day, and the first local Father's Day was observed on June 19, 1910,
in Spokane, Washington. Mrs. Dodd wanted Father's Day to be celebrated on the first
Sunday in June, her father's birthday. However, the Spokane council could not
get the resolution through the first reading until the third Sunday in June.

States and organizations began lobbying Congress to declare an annual Father's Day.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson approved of this idea, but it was not until 1924 when
President Calvin Coolidge made it a national event 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 a presidential proclamation
declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day.

Sonora Smart Dodd was honored for her contribution at the World's Fair in
Spokane in 1974. Mrs. Dodd died in 1978 at age 96.

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