Father's Day - How It All Began

The first time “Father’s Day” was observed was on July 5, 1908 in a small Episcopal church in Fairmont, West Virginia.  It was started by Grace Golden Clayton in honor of her father who had perished in the Monongah Mining Disaster of 1907 that had claimed the lives of 361 men.  250 of those men had been fathers.

Just two month’s prior, the first Mother’s day was observed and the success of that led Grace to create a remembrance of her own.  The first Father’s day was an event that was not widely promoted in Fairmont and was unobserved outside of town.  

Father’s day was not celebrated again until 1910 in Seattle, Washington.  It was organized by Sonora Smart Dodd who also had gotten the idea to celebrate Fathers by listening to a sermon about the woman who had started Mother’s day.  Local clergymen backed Dodd’s idea and Father’s day was celebrated that year on June 19th.  Dodd would remain an advocate of Father’s day her entire life.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proposed to make the holiday official but it was rejected by Congress for fear of it becoming too commercialized.  In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge recommended the observance of Father’s day  but made no push to turn it into an official holiday.  The issue remain up in the air until 1966 when President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed that the 3rd Sunday in June would be recognized as Father’s day.

65 years would pass between the first recorded Father’s day observance in 1907 and when President Richard Nixon made it a permanent national holiday in 1972.

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