OK. If you haven’t purchased your card yet, this is fair warning: You only have four days until Father’s Day.
Why don’t you impress your loved one with some trivia about the holiday? Did you realize that Father’s Day was not designated in the U.S. until the 20th Century? The inaugural observance was held in Fairmont, West Virginia, inside the Central United Methodist Church during 1908.
Despite the rumor that florists and greeting card companies inspire these ceremonial days, it was initially introduced in the nation by a young lady named Grace Golden Clayton.
During a horrific mining explosion that claimed her father’s life and 360 other men, Clayton wanted to memorialize their efforts. She and surrounding families mourned the loss of 250 fathers during what became known as The Monongah Mining Disaster that took place in West Virgina. The memorial was held only once — despite Clayton’s efforts to make it an annual celebration.
While others followed suit in recognizing fathers periodically, it was Sonora Dodd who, during 1920, hosted an event inside the YMCA in Spokane, Washington. There Dodd was able to memorialize her late dad — Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart — a widower and father to six children.
It was also in Spokane where President Woodrow Wilson delivered a speech in 1913, expressing his desire to officially recognize Father’s Day as a federal holiday. The president even employed telegraph signals to unfurl the flag during the commemoration.
Unfortunately, the annual celebration quietly faded into some obscurity for some time. In fact, it was more than two decades later before Dodd, herself, revisited the notion of making the day official.
When World War II broke out, advertisers echoed Dodd’s sentiments — purporting that Father’s Day would prove a great vessel with which to honor American troops while serving as an endorsement of their war efforts.
Despite some political opposition and several officials claiming the day was merely a commercialized ploy, President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced its first presidential proclamation during 1966.
His successor, President Richard M. Nixon, made Father’s Day an official, national holiday, signing its designation into law in 1972.
Fast forwarding 47 years and Father’s Day has exploded in its popularity.
Could you imagine that this Father’s Day expenditures are expected to reach a near-record $15.3 billion? That is projected by officials from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Researchers predict 77 percent of all Americans will celebrate Father’s Day — spending an estimated average of $133 per person.
Putting all economics aside, I was reading a devotional this past week when I stumbled upon a poignant statement by the late Rev. Billy Graham. He recognized a good father as a person “who is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in society.”
Disregard all the pricey consumer sales items. If you have been blessed with a godly, loving father, give him the best gift of all. Instead of spending loads of money, just make sure to spend some quality time, instead, with him this weekend. Take it from one who knows — life is much too short.
Kim Lambert is a former reporter with The Daily Record and former editor of The Angier Independent.