Today is Father’s Day: the one time a year set aside to honor Dad. It wasn’t always celebrated like it is today, and many men did not want it. Some even thought it was silly.
Mother’s Day became a national holiday in 1914. President Woodrow Wilson called the day a way to remember “that tender, gentle army – the mothers of America.” Men thought of it as a feminine holiday, something they didn’t want for themselves. The push to have a Father’s Day began after Grace Golden Clayton wanted to show support for her own father, who was a reverend.
Clayton’s father had passed away in 1896. After a tragic mining explosion that killed more than 360 men and left nearly 1,000 children without a father, she wanted to honor all dads. The first recorded Father’s Day was held during a Sunday service in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908. A few years later, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, was listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909 and decided it was time to pay tribute to fathers as well.
President Wilson supported a day for people to celebrate fathers in 1913, but Congress did not pass the bill. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the third Sunday in June as a time to honor fathers. Still, it wasn’t until 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed a law declaring the day to be Father’s Day, that it became an official holiday across the nation.
Despite men feeling silly about having a day in their honor, there were some things that helped people to celebrate the holiday. The Great Depression saw most families struggling to put food on the table for their families. This was a great excuse to get dad a tie, pair of socks, or some other clothing he may need but wasn’t about to spend the money on for himself. World War II was another inspiration to show respect and support for dads on the front lines.