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‘Fathers Haven’t the Same Sentimental Appeal That Mothers Have.’

Guess who made Father's Day a national holiday...

Helen Smith


June 17, 2013 - 4:00 pm


I was researching Father’s Day and saw that it was Richard Nixon who made it a federal holiday:

The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm–perhaps because, as one florist explained, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.” On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday. The next year, a Spokane, Washington woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910….

In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last. Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.

It seems to me that with all that fathers do for our country, it is the least that can be done. Fathers are important, just like mothers and it is unfair to pretend that they are not.

So Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.


Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.

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No offense against the good doctor who writes these interesting and thought-provoking pieces but what is the deal with referring to professionals by their first name only, as in Doctor Helen, rather than Doctor Helen Smith? I realize she is not the first practitioner of this and that it extends to other fields as well - Judge Judy for instance - but I find it off-putting. Although this practice seems to be adopted by practitioners themselves, rather than being imposed on them by others, it seems to infantilize the rest of us, as if we were very young children who can't be respected to remember an entire name. That disrespects us.
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