Father’s Day is a special day to celebrate the lives of our fathers and I feel proud to give folks in West Virginia the credit for setting aside a special day to honor our fathers as well as our mothers. Mother’s Day was first celebrated in Grafton, W.Va. in May of 1907. Father’s Day was first celebrated on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, W.Va.
Grace Golden Clayton was touched by a disastrous mine accident at Monongah, which killed more than 360 men of which 210 were fathers. Mrs. Clayton suggested to her pastor that these men should have a special day of remembrance. She also wanted to show a tribute to her father, a Methodist minister, so she suggested that the Father’s Day remembrance be the closest Sunday to her father’s birthday. The date set aside for the Father’s Day remembrance was July 5, 1908. There were several other special days set aside for the July 4th celebration and a funeral for a local resident of Fairmont gave more attention to July 4 than the remembrance to the fathers so no annual Father’s Day was put on the calendar for Fairmont. However, several folks in other states wanted to celebrate fathers and continued to work for a national day of remembrance to honor our fathers. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day. Finally in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a bill to establish a National Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June. The credit for Father’s Day went to Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington and Harry Meek of Chicago. History will show that the first actual Father’s Day Service in the U.S. was held on July 5, 1908, at the Williams Memorial Church in Fairmont, W.Va. Whoever is responsible for establishing Father’s Day should be saluted as we remember our fathers who have nurtured and guided their children.
Having a special day of celebration to honor our fathers is great. However, we need to celebrate our fathers every day. Fathers are usually the head of the house. They provide the livelihood for their families, participate in many sports or educational events with their children and are available to give their child or children the guidance they need to be ready to be out on their own. I have often said that mothers do not have to give birth to a child to be a mother. There are many fathers who do not have biological children but are very involved with a child or children due to marriage or family relationships. The man who is a good role model is involved with mentoring and nurturing a child. He can fill the role of a father figure. A child is never too old to have a good role model and someone to give him or her time and a listening ear. There are children all over the world who need a father figure in their lives. Those who have had loving fathers can attest to the fact that our fathers were and are one of the most important persons in our lives.
I was truly blessed to have a wonderful father, who was my best friend. I was born a few months before my father went overseas during World War II. I did not see him again until I was 2 years old. I was so blessed that he did come home. Many children lost their fathers during the war. I have told this before, but not too long ago, I found a dollar bill that my father had carried the two years he was fighting in the war. On one side of the bill, it had the year and date he left America and the date he came home. On the other side of the dollar bill dad wrote the names of all the countries he had fought in. He was one of the lucky ones. Dad was wounded and spent time in England in the hospital. He did get to came home.
My dad was a wise man and a great role model. As I got older and wanted to make my own decisions, dad would always discuss issues in a way that gave me the final say in the decisions I made. Dad suggested that I sit down and make a list of why or why not my decision was the best choice for me. As I remember our conversations, my father was always wise and the choices I finally made were the right ones for me. My dad never said “No.” He gave me the guidance I needed and I shall always be grateful for his time, common sense and loving kindness in helping me to make the best choices for me. I hope I have instilled some of my dad’s wisdom in my children as they make decisions in their lives.
My children had a father who instilled his children with wisdom, individuality, perseverance, independence, quirky humor and an attitude of service to others that makes me a proud mom. I know he would be proud of each of his children and the paths they have taken as adults and parents. His children are now teaching their children many of the things that their father and grandfather have taught them. That is what parenting is all about. That is what role models and mentoring is all about. Take the good qualities you can share and pass them on to someone who will eventually pass those same bits of wisdom and good qualities on to the next generation.
Children need to let their fathers and their mothers know how important they are in their lives. It is never too late to say “I love you” to your father and your mother. Father’s Day and Mother’ Day are important days to showcase parents, however, it is the everyday memories that make your dad and your mom feel loved and special. Find a day to just hang out with dad or with mom. If you live in another state, call or send a message to your dad this Father’s Day. If your dad is no longer with you, say a little prayer to him. He will get it. If you have a mentor who has made a difference in your life, tell that person how much you appreciate all the time they have devoted to you. When the day comes that dad and mom are gone from this world, it is the memories that sustain you.
Never regret that you did not take the time to share and make memories with your dad or your mom. Remember that parents are not perfect. However, think of the word unconditional love is what a family is all about. If you are estranged from your dad or your mom, or any other member of your family, find a way to work out your differences and understand that we all make mistakes; but family is the most important part of our lives. Family can be blood relatives, close friends, a mixed family of yours, mine and ours or just people who care for one another. Loving one another is the glue that makes everything all right. Discussion and the agreeing to disagree will get folks through many difficulties. Families have been the backbone of our country for centuries. A family is a group of folks whether blood related or just friends who sustain each other and make life’s burdens lighter, make life’s joys brighter and can make a difference in our lives and the lives of those around us.
Father’s Day will soon be here and let us salute our dads in person, by mail or a message letting them know they are special in our lives. “Happy Father’s Day”