Crocs with socks. Crisp white New Balances. Grilling tools. The day devoted to all things dad was kickstarted by one woman seeking to honor her Civil War veteran father who single-handedly raised her and her five younger brothers.
In 1909 Sonora Smart Dodd was sitting in a pew with her father, William Smart, listening to a Mother’s Day sermon when the inequity of the celebration struck her.
Smart, who was a Confederate soldier before switching sides to the Union, raised his children alone after Dodd’s mother died during childbirth. He was, Dodd later recalled to the Spokane Daily Chronicle, “both father and mother to me and my brothers and sisters.”
“I remember everything about him,” she continued.
The following year the Spokane, Washington, native approached the YMCA of Spokane and the Ministerial Alliance to push for a day to recognize the devotion of all fathers. The original date was to be June 5, 1910, Smart’s birthday, but the local clergy did not have enough time to pull together a celebration that quickly, so they settled on June 19 — or the third Sunday in June.
Dodd would spend the better part of 60 years pushing for official recognition of Father’s Day.
Subsequent presidencies continued to support Dodd’s idea, and in 1957, U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith from Maine introduced a bill to create a federally proclaimed day writing:
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.
In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation in the name of Father’s Day, yet it wasn’t until 1972 that President Richard Nixon signed a Congressional resolution declaring the third Sunday in June to be a permanent national observance day. Dodd was still alive to see her determination and devotion to her father become a federal holiday.
Thankfully she missed the crocs and socks movement, however.