Father’s Day celebrated it’s 100th anniversary in 2010. Of course there is some debate on where the idea for Father’s Day originated in the US. Some believe that it was in July 1908 in a West Virginia church in a sermon in memory of 362 miners who had died in an explosion. This was meant to be a one time commemoration, not an annual holiday.
The following year a woman name Sonora Smart Dodd, known as “The Mother of Father’s Day”, tried to establish an equivalent of Mother’s Day for Fathers. Her Mother had died when she was 16 and left her and 5 younger brothers for her Father to raise which inspired her to propose equal recognition for Fathers. She lobbied throughout Washington State and was successful in having the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910.
In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day, however many men were not in favor. During the 1920’s & 30’s a movement rose to scrap both Mother’s Day & Father’s Day in favor of a single holiday – Parents’ Day. The Depression and struggling retailers derailed that effort and strived to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men.
When World War II began, advertisers argued that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday but it was a national institution.
In 1966 President Johnson signed a proclamation that the third Sunday in June be recognized as Father’s day and requested flags be flown at all government buildings and finally, in 1972, President Nixon signed a federal proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday.
Scholars believe that the real origin of Father’s Day can be traced to the ruins of Babylon where a young boy named Elmesu carved a Father’s Day message on a card made out of clay nearly 4,000 years ago wishing his father good health and a long life.
Today over 50 countries around the world, from Antigua to Zimbabwe join in the Father’s Day celebrations.