Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers out there from Long Lake LTD. In recognition of this national holiday, we want to highlight the history of Father’s Day. The governor of the US state of Washington proclaimed the nation’s first Father’s Day on July 19, 1910. However, it wasn’t until 58 years later that Pres. Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day an official holiday. So what does Mother’s Day have to do with Father’s Day? Well, Mother’s Day was the inspiration for Father’s Day. When Mother’s Day was declared a national holiday, Father’s Day soon followed.
The Origins of Father’s Day
On July 5, 1908, the nation’s first event in honor of fathers was sponsored by a West Virginia church. This service honored 362 men who died in the explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company Mines in Monongah the previous December. This was a one-time celebration and not an annual holiday. The following year, a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, who was raised by widower, attempted to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for fathers. She promoted her idea to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials. She succeeded and Washington State celebrated the nation’s first Father’s Day on July 19, 1910.
In 1916, the day was honored by Pres. Wilson, who used telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane by pressing a button in Washington DC. In 1924, state governments were urged to observe Father’s Day by Pres. Calvin Coolidge. A historian wrote, they “scoffed at the holidays sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products – often paid for by the father himself.”
Controversy and Commercialism
During the 1920s and 1930s, a movement to change Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to a single holiday called parents day arose. On Mother’s Day, pro-Parent’s Day groups rallied in New York City’s Central Park every year. A Parent’s Day activists and radio performer, Robert Spere said, “that both parents should be loved and respected together.” However, this movement was not successful because of the Great Depression. Retailers and advertisers focus their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men. They promoted goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards. When World War II started, advertisers promoted Father’s Day as a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. Although Father’s Day was not a federal holiday, by the end of the war it was recognized nationally.
In 1972, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation that made Father’s Day a federal holiday. Today, it’s estimated that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.
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