Last Thursday, June 12, the new America’s Wars page of The Washington Times ran my article on the origin of Father’s Day, begun by a Union veteran’s daughter, Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, who lived in Washington State. Several other individuals had similar conceptual projects, but only Mrs. Dodd carried it through to the fruition of national recognition by a presidential proclamation by President Nixon.
Mrs. Dodd’s impetus was very personal. As the only daughter of Wiliam Jackson Smart, and with five brothers younger than she, Sonora saw how her dad was father and mother both to his brood, following the death of his wife when the last child was born. It was an era when there were no day care facilities, no “play dates,” and when he still had to make a living for the family following his release from the U.S. Army after the war’s end.
Sonora Smart Dodd sat in church on Mother’s Day in 1909 and hearing the minister preach on the values and unending sacrifice of mothers, realized that in her family, the same could be said of fathers, and her project was born.
She lived to see the day proclaimed, and died at the age of 96 knowing she’d achieved her goal.
Fast forward to this past Sunday, when the “Flashbacks” comic strip in the Post carried a pictographic version of the same story, completed in this Sunday’s strip. Glad they realized the importance of the day too.
It is doubtful that the origin of Father’s Day ever had such two-pronged coverage!