This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for June 18, 2017: There Comes the Strangest Moment

June 18, 2017: holiday: Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day. The exact origins of Father’s Day are in dispute, with some saying the celebratory day was founded by a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd and some saying it was Grace Golden Clayton.

What is known is that the first Father’s Day celebration to take place, at least in Washington State, happened on June 19, 1910, at the behest of Sonora Smart Dodd. She got the idea to celebrate dads after listening to a Mother’s Day sermon. Her own mother had died giving birth and Dodd’s father, a Civil War veteran, raised all six children by himself on a farm. Dodd thought the ministrations and hard work of fathers deserved recognition, too.

A few years earlier, however, Grace Golden Clayton suggested to her Methodist minister that a celebration of the fathers killed in the December 1907 explosion at the Fairmont Coal Company was in order. More than 300 men lost their lives in the explosion. That celebration took place on July 5 of 1908.

Regardless of who came up with the idea, it caught on, and by 1924 even President Calvin Coolidge was on board. He recommended it be a national holiday, but was rebuffed. It wasn’t until President Lyndon B. Johnson signed an executive order in 1966 that Father’s Day became an official celebration, on the third Sunday of June.