Friday, June 17, 2016

Father's Day: The Middle Child Connection.

The Mother of Father's
Day? Not so fast...
     Sonora Smart Dodd is often credited as being “The Mother of Father’s Day.” After her mother passed away when Dodd was 16, she was raised by her father, a civil war veteran. Looking for a way to honor him and other fathers, she spoke to a local ministerial alliance, and on June 19, 1910, a Father’s Day celebration was held in Spokane, Washington. But it wasn’t the first.
Gone But Not Forgotten: Grace Golden
Clayton's dad, Rev. Fletcher Golden.
     In December, 1907, Grace Golden Clayton was still mourning the loss of her father when a local mining disaster took the lives of 361 men, 250 of them fathers. She was so moved by the tragedy, she suggested her pastor honor all those fathers, and on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia, the very first Father’s Day was held.
     Even though Clayton’s observance was first, it never caught on like Dodd's. Clayton was shy and poorly organized, while Dodd had the support of merchant groups who helped grow her version into the celebration we know today. Clayton was the youngest of 11 children, Dodd the eldest of six. So exactly how does the Middle Child figure into any of this?
     Dodd got her Father’s Day brainchild after hearing a sermon in 1909 about Anna Jarvis, the “Mother of Mother's Day.” Clayton was also believed to be inspired by Jarvis’ work. She lived just 15 miles from Grafton, West Virginia, where the first Mother’s Day celebration occurred only two months earlier, in May, 1908. And did I forget to mention Anna Jarvis was a Middle Child? So, if a Middle Child didn’t come up with the idea for Mother’s Day, there wouldn’t be a Father’s Day! But if that weren’t enough of a connection, how about this?
A Real Dick Move: June 18, 1972 was
the first time 
Father's Day was a
national holiday. A day after Watergate.
     As far back as 1913, there have been various failed attempts to formally recognize Father’s Day as a national holiday. Presidents Wilson and Coolidge tried and couldn't make it happen. In 1966, President Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. But it wasn’t until 1972 that it was made a national holiday, signed into law by President Richard Nixon -- wait for it -- also a Middle Child.
     So on behalf of the International Middle Child Union, and Middle Children everywhere -- Happy Father’s Day! And you’re welcome.

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Middle Children need to be heard!