Honoring thy father is a concept that dates far back to biblical times. But the day meant to really make dad feel special didn’t go into official affect until 1972. And while Mother’s Day was established officially in 1914 (but widely celebrated before that date); Father’s Day was not met with the same vigor and enthusiasm.
In July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church hosted the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers. During a Sunday sermon the 362 men who died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines were honored in a one-time commemoration. A year later Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to create a “Mother’s Day” for fathers and had success when Washington State held the first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910. In the following years, Presidents like Calvin Coolidge and President Wilson were both proponents of Father’s Day, but generally American men opposed it. Why? They felt that it wasn’t a “manly” gesture to shower fathers with presents “likely” bought with his own money, and felt that Father’s Day was another commercializing holiday scam used to push products.
It took President Nixon re-election campaign to get an official proclamation signed in 1972 to recognize this day as a federal holiday.