Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day Tradition Founded in Washington State

Father's Day is acknowledged to have been the idea of Sonora Louise Smart Dodd. Her father, William Smart, was a farmer and Civil War veteran from eastern Washington State. His wife died giving birth to their sixth child, and Smart became a devoted single dad.

While listening to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909, Smart's daughter, Sonora, was struck by the idea that her selfless father, and others like him, also deserved a special day. She chose his birth month of June for the holiday. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd presided over the first Father's Day celebration in Spokane, Wash., on June 19, 1910.

In 1926 a National Father's Day Committee was formed in New York, and President Calvin Coolidge supported making Father's Day a national holiday.

From the Silver Anniversary Book on Father's day published in 1935.

"This year, 1935, the Silver Anniversary of Fathers' Day is being observed. Thirty-seven years ago, in the Big Bend hills of Washington, the day had its nativity in a lonely farm dwelling. There Sorrow ministered amid the moaning of the March winds.

A father sat with bowed head in his aloneness. About him clung his weeping children. The winds outside threw great scarfs of powdered snow against the window panes, when suddenly the last born tore himself from the group and rushed out into the storm calling for his mother. Yet even his baby voice could not penetrate the great silence that held this mother.

Hurriedly, the father gathered him back to his protection and for more than two decades, William Jackson Smart, alone, kept paternal vigilance over his motherless children.

This poignant experience in the life of Mrs. John Bruce Dodd of Spokane, Washington, who was then Sonora Louise Smart, was the inspiration for Fathers' Day which materialized through the devotion of this father and the father of her own son, John Bruce Jr., born in 1909. Through the observance of the love and the sacrifice of fathers about her everywhere, her idea of Fathers' Day crystallized in 1910, through a formal Fathers' Day petition asking recognition of fatherhood."

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