f The Wittenberg Door: Today in History: Father’s Day

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Today in History: Father’s Day


Sonora Louise Smart Dood of Spokane, Washington, came up with the idea of a day to honor fathers in 1909. Her own father, William Smart, was a Civil War veteran whose wife had died in childbirth. Dodd thought about the difficulties her father had faced as he struggled to raise his six motherless children on a farm in eastern Washington, and se set her mind to honoring all fathers. She approached local churches, and on Sunday, June 19, 1910, Spokane ministers celebrated the first Father’s Day by reminding their congregations of the appreciation fathers deserve and the duties fathers owe to their families.

In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson took part in a Father’s Day celebration by pressing a button in the White House that unfurled a flag in Spokane. In 1924 Calvin Coolidge recommended the widespread observance of the holiday to honor dads and “impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”

The idea of a nation Father’s Day was slow to catch on, but communities and states gradually joined the observance. During the Depression, in an effort to boost sales, retailers began encouraging the holiday with “Give Dad Something to Wear” campaigns.

In 1972 President Richard Nixon signed a law officially recognizing the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Each year, the president issues a proclamation urging Americans to remember all that their fathers have given to family and country.

American History Parade

1754 - The first colonial congress, the Albany Conference, meets in Albany, New York, to discuss better relations with the Iroquois.

1778 - George Washington’s army leaves its encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

1846 - The first recorded baseball game between two organized teams takes place in Hoboken, New Jersey (New York Knickerbockers beat the New York Nine, 23-1).

1862 - Slavery is outlawed in the U.S. territories.

1905 - The world’s first Nickelodeon opens in Pittsburgh.

1910 - Father’s Day is celebrated for the first time in Spokane, Washington.

The American Patriot's Almanac: Daily Readings on America

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