Scholars resolutely disagree regarding the onset of honoring the paternal relationship.
Discovered among the ruins of Babylon, created on a clay tablet, was what may be the first recorded tribute to fatherhood. This “card” from Elmesu was drafted for his father and believed to be 4,000 years old. It depicted a wish for his father to have good health and long life. While it is unlikely that Elmesu’s card was accompanied by a necktie, academics consider this discovery to indicate early tributes to paternity.
With an enormous leap forward on the planet’s timeline…a tetrad of millenniums…to the start of the 20th Century…we find ourselves in Spokane, Washington.
Sonora Louise Smart (later, Sonora Smart Dodd) was the daughter of farmer and Civil War Sergeant in the Union’s First Arkansas Light Artillery, William Jackson Smart. Sonora Smart, originally born in Sebastian County, Arkansas, relocated with her family to Washington State at age seven.
At the unversed age of 16, Sonora Smart’s mother died attempting to deliver her sixth child, leaving Sonora to assist her father with the raising of her siblings.
Seated at the Central Methodist Episcopal Church in Spokane during a 1909 Mother’s Day sermon, Sonora proposed that fathers be afforded the same tribute already paid to the nation’s mothers.
With the aid of local religious dignitaries, June 19, 1910 became recognized as the first Father’s Day in the state.
Prior to the Depression, a decade-long movement arose seeking to combine Mother’s Day and Father’s Day into a single, unified “Parent’s Day.” However, struggling retail store owners recognized an independent Father’s Day as an additional opportunity to pedal male-related wares such as ties, socks, pipes, sporting goods, apparel, etc. The onset of World War II stiffened the American desire to honor and glorify the fathers of the nation, many of whom were abroad participating in the war effort.
The American retailers were on target. It is currently estimated, by economists, that the Father’s Day holiday generates well over $1 billion in gift and card sales each year.
Unknown to most, Father’s Day did not achieve formal federal acceptance until President Richard Nixon, embroiled in a tedious re-election bid, proclaimed Father’s Day as a federal holiday in 1972.
While the origin of the celebration is in question, the day remains an extraordinary opportunity to formally relay our appreciation to those men we lovingly refer to as “dad.”
The Lee Herald, along with Elmesu, would like to wish all fathers “good health and long life.” Enjoy the day!
© 2016 Lee Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.