Father’s Day goes beyond greeting cards

Published 11:24 am Friday, June 19, 2020

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Father’s Day 2020 is celebrated this Sunday, June 21. Ever wonder how Father’s Day came to be? It’s more than a Hallmark holiday. Father’s Day was first celebrated after the worst mining accident in U.S. history.
The day is set aside the third Sunday in June to celebrate and honor the men who have embraced the essential role of fatherhood. On this day, we also thank fathers and father figures for the sacrifices they make for embracing the responsibility of nurturing and raising children, and for devotion to their family.
Father’s Day also celebrates real dads — the guys who, despite their faults, love their children and do the best they can to provide a stable family life and help raise well-adjusted kids.
Dads, after all, are human. They aren’t perfect. They can be confused and uncertain. They make mistakes. They aren’t really mythical beings.
Today’s families are not all built on the traditional assembly of a mother, a father and children. Family units come in all shapes and sizes, and they always have. The concept of Father’s Day probably stemmed from some form of non-traditional home life.
Fathers come in a wide variety of flavors, from aloof to overbearing.
A few extreme types of fathers regularly appear in popular entertainment. Sitcoms portray dads as buffoons who stumble through each day and can’t seem to get anything right. Dramas frequently include father characters who are violent or deadbeat or disinterested. All those kinds of dads exist. But they’re not the norm.
In the real world, most dads are good guys. They help support their families financially, socially and emotionally. They strive to protect their kids from danger. They teach — both by words and by example — their children about common sense, character, morals and ethics. When daughters and sons are confused by signals they get from peers or from society, dads — and moms, of course — try to coach their offspring through that particular piece of our complicated world. Then they move onto the next day, the next uncertainty, the next words of wisdom.
Most of all, fathers love their children. That love translates in many ways over the course of a lifetime. Fathers can serve as a landmark of stability as kids navigate the winding road toward adulthood. Dads also can serve as a stable source of advice for adult children. Once a dad, always a dad.
Fathers know they’ve done a good job when their kids grow up to be strong, thinking, caring, independent adults.
Like Mother’s Day, the modern American version of Father’s Day has a history that goes beyond greeting cards.
The first known Father’s Day service occurred in Fairmont, W.Va., on July 5, 1908, after hundreds of men died in the worst mining accident in U.S. history. The Sunday service happened because of the efforts of Grace Golden Clayton, the daughter of a dedicated reverend.
While missing her own dad, who had died in 1896, Mrs. Clayton wanted to honor the many fathers who had died in the mining explosion, which killed more than 360 men and boys, and left about 1,000 children fatherless. Although the Fairmont service was the first known to honor fathers, it did not turn into an annual event, nor was the idea promoted (a large July 4 celebration in Fairmont and a tragic young death from typhoid fever took over the news at the time).
Several other people across the nation had similar ideas throughout the years, but Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd is credited for being the one to popularize it, starting events that led to Father’s Day becoming a U.S. national holiday.
Her story began as she sat listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. Mrs. Dodd thought that it might be nice to honor fathers as well. Her father, William Smart, had raised his six children alone on his farm in Washington after his wife died giving birth.
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.
The idea received strong support, but the good ministers of Spokane asked that the day be changed to give them extra time to prepare sermons on the unexplored subject of fathers. The first Father’s Day in Spokane, Wash., was observed on June 19, 1910 (the third Sunday in June), and became an annual event there. Soon, other towns had their own celebrations.
In spite of widespread support, Father’s Day did not become a permanent national holiday for many years. The first bill was introduced in Congress in 1913, but in spite of encouragement by President Woodrow Wilson, it did not pass. In 1966, Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June to honor fathers.
Finally, in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a law declaring that Father’s Day be celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June. It has been an official, permanent national holiday ever since.
Happy Father’s Day to all our fathers!

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