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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Naperville Gardener – What do you know about Father’s Day?


“My grandchildren are reading about Father’s Day,” wrote PN columnist Marilyn Krueger when she sent this recent photo from Arizona. Cheers! (Post updated, June 14, 2024)

Did you know that Father’s Day became an official American holiday in 1972? Back then President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as a federal holiday to honor fathers. Mother’s Day became a federal holiday in 1914. Like Mother’s Day, the road to an official holiday for fathers was not a simple straight one, either.

In Babylon, the first known Father’s Day card was etched in clay by a lad wishing his father good health and a long life 4,000 years ago. In America, it might be traced back to a mining accident in West Virginia that killed 250 fathers. A daughter suggested that her church hold a special service in the miners’ memory, but her idea didn’t spread as she had hoped.

On the opposite coast of the United States, Sonora Dodd thought that there should be a special day for fathers, not just mothers. Her father, a Civil War veteran, had raised her and her five siblings after her mother died giving birth to her sixth child. She sought the support of the local clergy and the YMCA and succeeded when her hometown held its first Father’s Day on June 19, 1910.

President Woodrow Wilson, who made Mother’s Day a federal holiday, supported this idea, but got no support from Congress. It has been suggested that perhaps the male-dominated Congress realized that they would essentially be paying for their own Father’s Day gifts and that they’d rather have a National Fishing Day.

But another woman was undeterred. Senator Margaret Chase Smith said that, “Either we honor both our parents, mother and father, or let us desist from honoring either one. But to single out just one of our two parents and omit the other is the MOST GRIEVOUS INSULT imaginable!!!!” Margaret was the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress. The House of Representatives and the Senate, and even went on to seek a presidential nomination in 1964.

In 1972, as President Richard Nixon sought re-election, he finally made it a federal holiday to celebrate the fathers in our lives.

The official flower of Father’s Day is the rose. Red roses honor a father who is living and white roses are in remembrance of fathers who are no longer with us.

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Marilyn Krueger
Marilyn Kruegerhttp://www.napervillegardenclub.org
Marilyn Krueger is an avid local gardener and member of the Naperville Garden Club.