Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fathers Day

Although the exact date has not been determined, most scientists agree that our particular species has been around about 200,000 years. And most of us would acknowledge that our species would not have survived for 200,000 years without both fathers and mothers.

So you have to wonder why it took us so long to set aside one measly day a year to honor mothers and another one measly day a year to honor fathers.

Greeting cards – in the beginning at least – had nothing to do with it. Nor indeed did merchants of any kind.

Mothers Day came first. Observances were initiated by Unitarian Julia Ward Howe in 1872 as anti-war events. They continued about 10 years before the idea lost momentum. Then early in the 1900s, various communities and states began having ‘Mothers Day’ events. It became a national holiday in 1914.

The first Father's Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. It was launched by Mrs. John B. Dodd to honor her father, a widower, who raised his six children as a single parent. Eventually, towns and cities across America began to celebrate a "father's day." In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father's Day but it was not until 1966 that Lyndon B. Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day.

Today both Fathers Day and Mothers Day are part of this country’s culture. And however long it has taken us to create them, both observances are probably a good idea.

No father (or mother) is perfect. But most fathers have, in their own ways, done their best to nurture their kids, teach them the rules, and help them acquire the skills they need to survive, and even flourish. And if your father wasn’t particularly good at it, there probably was another adult male who was instrumental in helping you (at whatever age) reach adulthood.

So hooray for the 3rd Sunday in June. Hooray for fathers (or adult male substitute fathers). Bless them, honor them and try to give them better neckties this year.

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