Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise his six children on a farm.
A day in June was chosen for the first Father’s Day celebration — 102 years ago, June 19, 1910, proclaimed by Spokane’s mayor because it was the month of Smart’s birth.
The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Father’s Day has been celebrated annually since 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent.
In the United States, there are an estimated 70 million fathers. Census numbers show only 25 million of those fathers are part of a married-couple family with children younger than 18. There are only 1.8 million fathers in the United State who are considered single parents — a parent caring for children without physical assistance from the other parent. That number makes up only 15 percent of single parents.
While the number of fathers in homes are on the decline, the number of stay-at-home dads has increased in recent years. The 2011 estimated statistics showed 176,000 fathers with children younger than 15 have remained out of the labor force for at least one year primarily so they can care for the family while their wives work outside the home. These fathers cared for 332,000 children.
For some, Father’s Day is a celebration and a time to show appreciation and honor to outstanding fathers and others who have been fatherly figures.
For others, Father’s Day is dreaded or ignored because they come from a home that never had a father or had an abusive father.
One program in Walker County is helping to increase the number of good fathers in the area. The Fatherhood Initiative, a division of the Jasper Area Family Service Center, assists non-custodial parents by teaching and practicing skills that enhance their ability to meet financial responsibilities and maintain nurturing relationships with their children.
The Fatherhood Initiative also reinforces the rights and responsibilities of being a parent by offering case management and classes. For more information on the program, call 205-387-0511, extension 5834.
Anyone blessed enough to have a great father should take time today to tell him how much he is loved and how much he means in your life. For anyone who doesn’t know the love of a father, break that circle if you are a father. Love your children and give them a reason to celebrate Father’s Day in the future.
- Daily Mountain Eagle