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Sunday, June 19, 2016

GUEST BLOG / By's Day in the United States is on the third Sunday of June. It celebrates the contribution that fathers and father figures make for their children's lives.

There are a range of events, which may have inspired the idea of Father's Day. One of these was the start of the Mother's Day tradition in the first decade of the 20th century. Another was a memorial service held in 1908 for a large group of men, many of them fathers, who were killed in a mining accident in Monongah, West Virginia in December 1907.

But the most widely accepted story of the founding of Father’s Day involves Sonora Smart Dodd (1882-1978), who was an influential figure in the establishment of Father's Day in Spokane, Washington.

Sonora Smart Dodd
Her father, William Smart, a civil war veteran, raised six children by himself after the death of their mother in 1893. This was uncommon at that time, as many widowers placed their children in the care of others or quickly married again.

Sonora was inspired by the work of Anna Jarvis, who had pushed for Mother's Day celebrations. Sonora felt that her father deserved recognition for what he had done. The first time Father's Day was held in June was in 1910 in Spokane.  The idea caught hold and soon spread across the country.  

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the day and in 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father's Day, but it didn't become an official holiday until 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the presidential proclamation that set aside the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day.  Later in 1972 President Nixon established a permanent national observation of the day.

This is the craftsman era home where Sonora Smart Dodd lived in Spokane, Washington, in the early 20th century. The front yard monument commemorates Dodd as the person who conceived the idea of Father’s Day.                                                    (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios)

Father's Day is a relatively modern holiday so different families have a range of traditions. These can range from a simple phone call or greetings card to large parties honoring all of the 'father' figures in a particular extended family.

Hallmark began producing Father’s Day cards in the 1920s and the company reports Dad’s Day is the fourth largest card-sending holiday in the U.S. with more than 74 million cards exchanged annually.

Sonora Louise Smart Dodd died at the age of 96 but her legacy lives on. A monument to Sonora’s holiday stands at the Spokane YMCA . 
Organizations, businesses and stores are open or closed, just as they are on any other Sunday in the year. Public transit systems run to their normal Sunday schedules. Restaurants may be busier than usual, as some people take their fathers out for a treat.

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