“Father - Fatherhood - Father's Day....”
L.T. Force, Ph.D.
Well, here we are....the 3rd Sunday of June in the United States of America - also known as the celebration of Father’s Day. We all have Fathers....they come to us with different styles....different strategies....and different formats.... but we all have one.
The history of celebrating Father’s Day in the United States of America can be traced to:
“Father's Day was inaugurated in the United States in the early 20th century to complement Mother's Day in celebrating fathers, fathering, and fatherhood. Father's Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. After hearing a sermon about Anna Jarvis's Mother's Day at Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father's birthday, the pastors of the Spokane Ministerial Alliance did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.
It did not have much success initially. In the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying in the Art Institute of Chicago, and it faded into relative obscurity, even in Spokane. In the 1930s Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level. She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present to fathers. Since 1938 she had the help of the Father's Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men's Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the commercial promotion. Americans resisted the holiday during a few decades, perceiving it as just an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother's Day, and newspapers frequently featured cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes. But the trade groups did not give up: they kept promoting it and even incorporated the jokes into their adverts, and they eventually succeeded. By the mid-1980s the Father's Council wrote that "(...) [Father's Day] has become a Second Christmas for all the men's gift-oriented industries." A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak in a Father's Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized. US President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. Two earlier attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress. In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus "[singling] out just one of our two parents". In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day.[Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972."
As you can see the insight, wisdom and vision of: "Sonora Smart Dodd" was the catalyst for the establishment of: "honoring Fathers on their special day - the 3rd Sunday of each June".
Although there is a designated day to honor Fathers - there are multiple times throughout the year, month, week and day where we give tribute to our Fathers. For some individuals: “the relationship with a Father is golden”. For other individuals: “the relationship with a Father is stable, consistent and predictable”. And for other individuals: “the relationship with a Father is absent or one of an illusion”. Wherever, you fit on the spectrum the consistent factor is....we all have Fathers. And one particular style is not necessarily better than, in comparison to, another style. Some patterns of Fatherhood we want to emulate and pass down intergenerationally. Other patterns of Fatherhood that we have been exposed to - we would like to refine or streamline before we pass them down across the generations and finally, other specific patterns of Fatherhood that we have witnessed and experienced we would like to discard them.
Some of us have been: "Blessed with the presence of a Father, or Father-like figure....Brothers, Uncles, Father-in-Laws, Friends and Teachers across our lifespan". Others of us, have not had that gift. My own Father died at the age of 55 - when I was 21 years old - and a few months shy of my graduating college; "It was the greatest theft of my life". I truly loved my Father with both his strengths and weaknesses (as we all have). He was an affectionate man and wedded to a good sense of humor. You knew where you stood with him.... why...."because he continuously told you how much he loved you and how proud he was of you". Again, the greatest theft is losing him so young in life - for both of us. Did he have weaknesses, frailties and short-coming? Yes, they are part of the human condition for all of us. "But clearly and loudly those deficits were overshadowed by his hugs, his encouragement, his pride and his love."
So, today is the day to recognize, reflect and honor the Fathers in your life. We all have Fathers....they come to us with different styles....different strategies....and different formats.... (similar to the different shapes, patterns and designs of the ties in the picture)....but we all have one.Today, now here I am - in my late 60’s...."a Father of 2 sons - one of the greatest gifts of my life"....who I hope both see my strengths and love and pride for them....more so, than they focus on my limitations and weaknesses associated with the human condition. "Today is a day to Celebrate Fathers, Honor Fathers, Forgive Fathers and Embrace Fathers for who they are". My Dad would have given that advice to me: “take people for who they are”. I hear him say those words....because you need to know - over these last 47 years, since his passing, I still talk to him often - because he will always be part of my life. Happy Fathers Day Dad! Love you and Thanks....