You could call Sonora Smart Dodd the “Mother of Father’s Day.” After all, the holiday, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, was inspired by her.
Dodd’s mother died in 1898 during childbirth, leaving her father, William Jackson Smart, to raise Dodd and her five younger brothers (including the newborn baby) on a remote farm near Spokane, Wash. While attending a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909, Dodd decided that fathers deserve the same recognition.
Within a year, she — along with some help from her pastor, the Rev. Conrad Bluhm, the Spokane YMCA and the Ministerial Alliance — did it: June 19, 1910, was designated as the first Father’s Day. Throughout Spokane that day, Sunday sermons were themed around the importance of fatherhood.
By 1924, the holiday had gained some national prominence. President Calvin Coolidge that year recognized Father’s Day and made it known that he wanted more states to get involved.
In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed an order proclaiming the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. He even requested that flags on all government buildings be flown that day.
In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation permanently observing Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June. And today, Father’s Day is celebrated in over 50 countries around the globe on various days throughout the year.
All because of a young girl who appreciated her dad’s love and wanted to see his efforts acknowledged. William Jackson Smart died in 1919, so he got to celebrate 10 Father’s Days with his grateful daughter.
Throughout Spokane, events are planned to celebrate Father’s Day, as they always are, but this year is special.
Pam Scott, communication manager for the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, told AOL News they are taking the centennial seriously.
“Father’s Day is such a part of our history, and when you reach a milestone like this, it’s a good opportunity to look back, reflect and leverage the history into a truly unforgettable celebration,” Scott said.
So remember, if you have a father in your life, whether biological or not, wish them a happy father’s day. After all, it is a 100 year old tradition.