Mother’s Day was the conception of a West Virginian named Anna Jarvis, who in May of 1908 organized a memorial ceremony for her late mother and, consequently, all mothers. From 1914 on, the president has issued a proclamation commemorating the second Monday in May for Mother’s Day.
In 1909, a Sonora Smart Dodd attended the Mother’s Day gathering at the Central Methodist Church in Spokane, Washington, and a thought occurred to her, which she brought up with the pastor: “[S]omehow, ‘father’ seems something apart. Do you not think it would be fair and fine to give father a place in the sun?” Raised primarily by her father after her mother’s death at age 16, this proposition held real meaning for Dodd.
After a petition and support from local YMCA, the Spokane Ministerial Alliance agreed to deliver a Father’s Day sermon. She originally wished it to happen on June 5, her father’s birthday, but necessary preparations pushed the Father’s Day date to June 19.
It didn’t take long for the idea to each other parts of the country and even the world, and letters flooded in. Dodd formed the International Father’s Day Association to coordinate correspondence and work toward congressional recognition. Though it gained wide popularity in America, some politicians informally backing it, it still remained an elective celebration.
In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a proclamation declaring, “[T]he Congress, by enactment of Senate Joint Resolution 161, has now given official recognition to this well-established tradition [of observing Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June].” Congress authorized the establishment of Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June in Public Law 92-278, approved in April of 1972.
Like Mother’s Day, businesses have commercialized Father’s Day, though perhaps not quite a quickly as Mother’s Day. Thus, I encourage you to take time today remembering the reason that Father’s Day exists. If you have a loving father, spend a little time with him. He deserves it.
Thank you to all the fathers out there! (That includes you, Baba.)