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History of Father's Day

posted May 4, 2017, 4:53 PM by Bowmansville UMC

Father's Day was first organized by Sonora Smart Dodd in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910.

The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm–perhaps because, as one florist explained, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.” 

On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday. 

The next year, a Spokane, Washington woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. 

She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. 

Slowly, the holiday spread. 

In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. 

In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day. 

It was later made an official holiday by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966.

(Thank you Sandy for the history)