At my home growing up in Oregon, the third Sunday of June each year was always at least one celebration. But sometimes, it was a three-for-one deal. If that third Sunday happened to fall on June 21st, it was my dad’s birthday, the first day of summer and Father’s Day all on the same day!
After hearing a sermon at her church about Mother’s Day, Sonora Smart Dodd told her pastor she thought dads ought to be honored in a similar way. Sonora wanted to honor her father, Civil War veteran William Smart Jackson– a single parent who raised six children. She suggested her father’s birthday, June 5, as the day to honor fathers. But her pastor wanted a bit more time to prepare his sermon so he gave the first Father’s Day sermon on the third Sunday of June. Father’s Day was first celebrated at the YMCA in Spokane, WA on June 19,1910.
The first introduction of a bill in Congress was 1913 and President Woodrow Wilson tried to push it forward in 1916 and again President Calvin Coolidge suggested a national holiday in 1924. But a national proclamation always fell short for fear of commercialization (think tacky ties) of Father’s Day. It wasn’t until President Lyndon B. Johnson was in office in 1966 that he proclaimed Father’s Day as a National holiday on the Third Sunday of June and it became law under President Nixon in 1972.
Father’s Day is one of those bittersweet days in our current American culture. It’s sweet when you have an honorable father to honor. Even if it’s an honorable father who is no longer living, good memories bring warm feelings of comfort and peace.
However, most of us are aware of the bitter reality—many in our culture do not or have not had meaningful relationships with their dads. Absentee dads are an epidemic. Uninvolved dads are common. If that is your experience, I do pray you will find help and healing to move forward.
The truth is, caring, connected and compassionate dads are so vital in the healthy development of kids. If you did or didn’t receive such fathering, you have an opportunity to make a difference in the next generation. You can invest with intentionality in your own children or grandchildren. Or you can spend yourself on behalf of the fatherless kids right here in our own community. If you live in Southwest Florida, organizations like Not in My City (www.NotInMyCity.org) will help you mentor an underprivileged child in a Lee County school. Big Brother/Big Sister (www.bbbssun.org) would welcome you to mentor a child without an active dad.
This Father’s Day, whatever your story, pledge to express appreciation to your dad or some man in your life that modeled integrity, grace, strength and influenced you in some positive way. And if you are a dad, recommit yourself to connect with and invest in your children, young or old. Happy Father’s Day!
QUESTION: Do you have any memories to share from your father or another role model? Use the comment section below.