The origin of Father's Day in the United States

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There are many theories about how the Father's Day celebration originated, but one woman's efforts popularized the holiday in the United States.

Sonora Louise Smart Dodd is credited with giving birth to the modern version of Father's Day.

Dodd came up with the idea of Father's Day as she listened a Mother's Day sermon in 1909. She was 27 at the time. Her mother died while giving birth to a child; at the time, Sonora was just 16 years old. Her father, a Civil War veteran, raised six children.

Inspired by Anna Jarvis's struggle to promote Mother's Day, Dodd began a rigorous campaign to celebrate Father's Day. The Spokane Ministerial Association and the local Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) supported Sonora's cause. As a result Spokane, Washington celebrated its first Father's Day on June 19, 1910. The idea gradually gained popularity all over US and Fathers Day came to be celebrated in cities across the country.

President Woodrow Wilson approved of this idea in 1916. 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". After a protracted 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. Sonora Smart Dodd was honored for her contribution at the World's Fair in Spokane in 1974. Dodd died in 1978 at age 96.


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