By Lesli Nolen
Published June 2012
The third Sunday in June we celebrate Father’s Day, and have for as long as I can remember. For most of the other holidays, I have an understanding of how or why we celebrate them. Although it truly exists to honor our fathers, I had no idea how Father’s Day came about. This is what I found out.
According to Wikipedia, the holiday first began on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Wash., along with other festivities honoring fathers. But this event did not spark our modern day national Father’s Day celebration.
Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas, began the movement. Her father was a Civil War veteran and a single parent of six. Her inspiration came from a woman whose efforts founded Mother’s Day. So Dodd thought it would be a great idea to honor her father, in the similar way we honor mothers. She wanted this event to take place on her father’s birthday, June 5. Due to time constraints and planning she was unable to get everything ready by then, so the event was delayed to the third Sunday in June.
Widespread support of her idea took off, but didn’t seem to stick. By 1924, the idea of a national Father’s Day was so popular that President Calvin Coolidge supported it. However, it was not until a 1966 presidential proclamation by Lyndon Baines Johnson declared that the third Sunday of June would officially be observed as Father’s Day. The holiday was made permanent by President Richard Nixon in 1972. As with anything else, businesses took off with the idea and began a whole marketing campaign. Greeting cards were the first to market for the celebration, then every other business followed suit.
Considering I was born just after 1972, it is fair to say that as long as I can remember we have always celebrated Father’s Day. And it is a day to be celebrated. I can honestly say I had the best dad in whole wide world. Growing up, I didn’t always think that, but as an adult now I look back and know everything he did, he did out of love. Can’t get much better than that!!
Not everyone celebrates Father’s Day the third Sunday in June and not everywhere is it a public holiday. Canada recognizes Father’s Day the third Sunday, but it is not celebrated publicly. Brazil celebrates it the second Sunday in August. In Taiwan, Father’s Day is not an official holiday but is observed on the eighth day of the eighth month. Germany celebrates as a national holiday Ascension Day, remembrance of the day Christ ascended to heaven, 40 days after Easter Sunday. In conjunction with Ascension Day they celebrate Vaterstag (Father’s Day) or Männertag (Men’s Day). But some Germans take Männertag as the day of the year to get rip-roaring drunk—not exactly the Father’s Day we think of.
The Roman Catholic tradition is celebrated on Saint Joseph’s Day, known as Feast of Saint Joseph, on March 19. It is also common for Catholics to honor their spiritual father as well. This is also the tradition in Spain.
Like the Roman Catholics I also recognize my Heavenly Father on this day as well. I give thanks to him for giving me a wonderful earthly father for 30 years and the gift of an Eternal Father.
We recently viewed the film, “Courageous,” at our church, and it is such an inspirational film for everyone, especially for fathers. It is a laugh-out-loud, tear-jerker movie that will inspire you to be a better parent. It reminds us that God has given us His children to raise if only for a short period of time, and if we don’t teach our children the world will.
The movie demonstrates the important role a father plays in his children’s lives. In the movie, there are five gentlemen who resolve to stand up and become fixed on doing what is right. Through numerous challenges they discover that it is not always easy, but it is the right thing to do. The gentlemen sign a resolution in front of witnesses who are there to see the commitment they’ve made and to help hold them accountable for their actions. This is a Christian based film and faith based resolution. The resolution declares they choose to live for what matters most. It’s established in their heart and then spoken out loud, committing them to fulfill God’s given responsibilities to live your life with faith and integrity. It expresses who they desire to be as a man and reminds them of their priceless influence on the next generation.
This resolution is a tool to help men direct their steps for the remainder of their days to run a faithful race so one day they can stand before God and hear Him say, “Well done!” That should be our focus today as parents. The resolution is not for men only; they have one for women as well. Their resolution is similar to the men’s but shows how our roles are different, yet very important.
I urge men and women alike to watch the movie and buy the book. It is time we start doing what is right because it’s the right thing to do. Our children depend on us to teach them right values and morals, something lacking in today’s world. We need to close the gap on what the world says is okay and go back to the sound morality.
So whatever day you celebrate Father’s Day on, I wish every father a Happy and Blessed Father’s Day. I hope this year will be the beginning of your race of faithfulness and the best years of your life. May God bless you always.