The idea for creating a day for children to honor their fathers began in Spokane, Washington in 1909. A married woman and daughter by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd thought of the idea for Father’s Day while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in her local church when she realized that in her own childhood, it had been her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran, who had sacrificed raising herself and her five brothers alone, following the early death of her mother during childbirth. For her, the hardships her father had endured on their eastern Washington farm called to mind the unsung deeds of fathers everywhere.
Having been raised by her father, William Jackson Smart, after her mother died, Sonora wanted her father to know how special he was to her. It was her father that made all the parental sacrifices and was, in her eyes, a courageous, selfless, and loving man. Sonora’s father was born in June, so she chose to hold the first Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington on the 19th of June, 1910. Mrs. Dodd proposed a local Father’s Day celebration and received strong support from the town’s ministers and members of the Spokane YMCA.
As newspapers across the country who were already endorsing the need for a national Mother’s Day carried stories about the unique Spokane observance, interest in Father’s Day increased. However, Father’s Day was not as quickly adopted as Mother’s Day had been. Members of the all male Congress feared that a move to proclaim this new holiday official might be interpreted as a self indulgent, and Father’s Day remained an unofficial day of observance, although it’s popularity was still gaining recognition throughout the country. (more…)