Father’s Day a Late Bloomer

19 Jun
Father’s Day a Late Bloomer

It’s interesting to find the history behind this or that, and Father’s Day is of no exception when it comes to its place in history.  So I took to task, of finding out just how Father’s Day came to pass.

Everyone’s perception of how, or why, Father’s Day came to be, is simple.  To honor the selfless acts of love and sacrifices our parent of the male gender have made through the years for us, the loving children that respect and admire our Dads on this glorious day.

Did you know, this occasion was actually conceived from a disaster in West Virginia?  Well, neither did I.   Now granted in the world we live, Google is our friend.  But sometimes to get the total picture, or whole story, you have to dig deeper.  Here’s what my super sleuthing found for us.

The first observance of Father’s Day took place in Fairmont, West Virgina on June 5, 1908.  Let me back up to 1907, so you’ll truly understand.  On December 6, 1907 there was a mining disaster in Monongah, West Virginia, called the Monongah Mining Disaster.   An explosion of fire-damp was claimed as the cause, killing hundreds.  This disaster has been described as, “the worst mining disaster in American History”.  I won’t go into depth of this history here, I just want you to know what sparked the idea of the first Father’s Day. You can find the rest of that story here.

Choosing a Sunday closest to her fathers birthday, Mrs. Grace Golden Clatyon, organized the first observance on June 5, 1908 to celebrate the lives of 210 men that died in that disaster, several months prior.  It’s possible that the recently celebrated Mother’s Day may have had some influence on this decision to honor Fathers with their own day.  Overshadowed by other events, West Virginia did not official register the holiday, and thus it was never celebrated again.

It was not until two years later, another attempt would be made to make Father’s Day a holiday equal to Mother’s Day.  Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd, the daughter of a widowed civil war veteran William Jackson Smart, wanted her father to know she could see his greatness and wanted to celebrate this greatness, sacrifice and selfless acts of love on June 5.  However, upon speaking to the minister of the church, it was decided that something of this nature (fatherhood) was new and deserving of more time to write about it.  Thus, the date was pushed back three weeks to June 19.  On June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington, the first another observance of Father’s Day took place.  Here and here are snippets of the full story on that.

In 1913, a bill was introduced to Congress to make Father’s Day a national holiday.  In 1916, Woodrow Wilson would speak at a Spokane, Washington celebration, and wanted to make the holiday official.  However, Congress resisted, believing it would become too commercialized.  In 1924 Calvin Coolidge recommended that the day be recognized nationally, but fell short of issuing a national proclamation.

In 1957, a Maine Senator, Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal suggesting (oh, dare I say it!) discrimination against fathers, singling them out of the two parent equation for 40 years while honoring Mothers.  (Do the math, that’s more like 49!)  Although it’s gaining speed in notoriety, it’s not making the history books yet.  Don’t fret, it gets better!

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson, issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers.  Making the third Sunday in June Father’s Day.  But alas, the proclamation didn’t make it permanent.  It was not until six years later that President Richard Nixon made this the official day, giving Father’s Day its permanent place in history by signing it into law in 1972.  Read more on this here.

Now I’ve covered just about everything on this subject, except a couple of things.  Here’s the rest of my findings…..

Traditionally, flowers were worn to celebrate Father’s Day.  Mrs. Dodd (the daughter of the widowed civil war veteran) favored roses.  She chose the wearing of the red flower to honor the fathers still living, and a white rose to honor the deceased fathers.  On the other hand, J.H. Berringer, who is also noted as having celebrated Father’s Day in 1912 in Washington state, chose the white lilac as the Father’s Day symbol.  Today, the rose still remains the national flower of Father’s Day.  (No wonder my Dad likes roses!)  If you’d like to read more about that, check here.

Alright, last tidbit.  Did you know that Father’s Day, written in such a way is improper punctuation?  Yes, it’s true.  This day is to be for honoring all fathers, meaning a plural possessive.  Which makes it an s’ by normal English punctuation guidelines.  Mrs. Dodd submitted the name using correct punctuation (Fathers’ Day), however it was on the books from an earlier submission (Father’s Day) to Congress in 1913.  Never changing the name from its original submission, it is still on the books to this day as Father’s Day.  (Meaning a singular possessive – a day belonging to one father.)  Oh, and you can find this technical stuff here.

All I can say is………………….


Photos courtesy of


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