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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers Day ~ A Red Rose or White?

My earliest memories of fathers day when I was young were not just the ties we bought dad, or the home made crafts we made for him; but from Church.. it was explained to me that if your father was deceased, you wore a red rose, if he was still alive, awhite rose. This left a strong impact on me back then.

Of course, like many things.. I just moved on and forgot about the custom, as it seems it no longer is a tradition. I became curious to this as we approach Father's Day this year. Surprisingly, Father's day is a relatively "new" celebration, not becoming national until 1966.

Research on the origination of Father's Day is varied, interesting and sentimental.. One such story, and the most popular, was a Ms. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd from Spokane, Washington was sitting in Church on Mother's Day.. and wondered if there was a day to honor fathers, as there was mothers.

Sonara's own mother had died in childbirth at the young age of 16, leaving her father to raise 6 other children and a newborn on his own. She became inspired by Anna Jarvis's accomplishment of a national day to honor mother's and began her own mission for a day to honor fathers, justified in feeling her father certainly deserved being honored.

She began locally, in her own church, then to the Spokane Ministerial Association and the local Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) who all supported her,

Mrs. Dodd celebrated the very first Father's Day on June 19, 1910. Though there was initial hesitation the idea gradually gained popularity through US and Fathers Day came to be celebrated in cities across the country .

It took almost six years for the idea to really spread. Finally, in 1916, the concept of honoring father's reached higher powers.. President Woodrow Wilson approved of the idea.

A full seven years later, President Calvin Coolidge too supported the idea of a national Father's Day in 1924 to, "establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations".

Finally, after a struggle of over four decades, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father's Day in 1966. Then in 1972, President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father's Day to be held on the third Sunday of June.

Of course, there are many conflicting stories, including the first Father's Day was celebrated in a West Virgina church in 1908 and a rumor the first was in Vancouver, WA.

Another report states Harry Meek was the president of the Lions' Club in Chicago, and it is said he celebrated the first Father's Day with his organization in 1915 to stress the need to honor all fathers. He selected the closest date to his birthday, the third Sunday in June for celebrating. In appreciation for Meek's work, the Lions Clubs of America presented him with a gold watch, with the inscription "Originator of Father's Day," on his birthday, June 20, 1920.

Then in 1957, Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote Congress: "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."

I am fortunate to be wearing a white rose to Church this year on Father's Day, and will be happy to explain the tradition to anyone that isn't aware of it. I'm truly grateful to have such a wonderful father. I was his first child when he was only 17, four more after me. In retrospect, we most likely grew up together, he was so young to have so much responsibility.

Dad took all of us under wing and taught us everything from changing oil in the lawn mower, how to fix a flat and even budgeting and investing. He taught us independence and respect. To this day, I go to him with any problems and respect his wisdom. For all this I am grateful to my wonderful father, and to Ms. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd for her perseverance to create a holiday to honor fathers..

My dad, 1934


  1. What an interesting post Von. Thank you for sharing all that information.

    Oh and your dad is so adorable with his smiley face and all dressed up in his Sunday best. Such a lovely natural photograph.

    I feel exactly the same way about my own lovely dad. He was born in 1938 and I have the most darling photo of him wearing a woolen baby suit which has just one shoulder and sleeve. He looked like Tarzan! A very cute, tiny Tarzan!!! :-)

  2. What a lovely blog post. Yesterday was Father's day in the UK. As every year for the last 15 its was tinged with sadness for me as well as happiness for my husband and children. I wish I had seen this before and obtained a white rose

  3. Thank you Louise, how sweet of you~We're so fortunate to have wonderful fathers. I bet your picture of your dad in the tarzan suit is absolutely precious!! xo

  4. Sue, My heart goes out to you. I am sure not a day goes by you don't think of him. I lost my own son this year who has a little 5 yr old boy, so i can understand your sadness. Thank you for sharing. White roses next year! yvonne ((hugs))