In researching the origins of Father’s Day, I found remarkable similarities between Mother’s and Father’s day. Both were tied to the Civil War and both were inspired by Anna Jarvis, the creator of Mother’s Day. (For details regarding Anna Jarvis, and the origins of Mother’s Day, you can refer to my blog).
In 1909, Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, inspired by Anna Jarvis, decided it was time to honor all fathers, and her own in particular, with a special day. Her father, William Jackson Smart, was a Union solder in the Civil War, who owned a small farm around Spokane, Washington. When Sonora’s mother died in childbirth, William raised the newborn as well as his five other children by himself. At the age of 27, Sonora launched a campaign to make her dream to honor all fathers a reality.
The first Father’s Day was celebrated June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington, but it had a long journey before it became nationally recognized. Although everyone liked the idea, and it was embraced across the nation, it took a while before it became official.
Woodrow Wilson came to Spokane in 1916, and spoke at a Father’s Day Service. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended that Father’s Day become a national holiday, but no official action was taken. In 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson, through an executive order, designated the third Sunday in June as the official day to celebrate Father’s Day. However, it wasn’t until 1972, during the Nixon administration, that Father’s Day was officially recognized as a national holiday.
Sonora Smart Dodd was honored at the World’s Fair in Spokane, Washington in 1974. She died in 1978, at the age of ninety-six.
We owe Sonora a dept of gratitude for helping us honor and recognize those who help us take our first step, and guide us lovingly along life’s path.Happy Father’s Day. Pam