(Edited from AP) Father’s Day was started a century ago because inventor Sonora Smart Dodd was upset by widespread mocking of fathers in popular culture as lazy, sleazy and drunk. And this June 20 marks the 100th anniversary of Father’s Day.

While it is easy to take shots at dads who mess up, it’s important to focus on the important role of men, said Michael Gurian, an author who specializes in the struggles of men in the modern world.

(Edited from AP) Father’s Day was started a century ago because inventor Sonora Smart Dodd was upset by widespread mocking of fathers in popular culture as lazy, sleazy and drunk. And this June 20 marks the 100th anniversary of Father’s Day.

While it is easy to take shots at dads who mess up, it’s important to focus on the important role of men, said Michael Gurian, an author who specializes in the struggles of men in the modern world.

For Sonora Dodd, the last straw was a church sermon in 1908, when her priest rambled on about the newly created Mother’s Day and the importance of mothers.

“I liked everything you said about motherhood,” Sonora Dodd recalled telling the priest in a 1972 interview. “However, don’t you think fathers deserve a place in the sun too?”

Her father, William Smart, survived the Civil War and then moved West to seek his fortune. His wife died in the winter of 1898, while giving birth of their sixth child. But Smart, with the help of Sonora, the eldest child and only girl, held the family together. Sonora became convinced of the importance of fathers, at a time when they were not considered that relevant to the family.

“Father’s Day is hopefully a time when the culture says ‘this is our moment to look at who our men and boys are,’” Gurian said.

Sonora Dodd certainly did her part. She pushed for the first Father’s Day celebration, which was held in June 1910, in Spokane. Fathers in church were given red roses, and people whose fathers were deceased wore white roses.

Mother’s Day was quickly accepted as a national holiday, with Congress in 1914 designating the second Sunday in May. Father’s Day had a much longer road, perhaps reflecting the societal split involving mothers and fathers. It was not until 1966 that President Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers and set the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. In 1972, President Nixon signed the law that made it permanent, to the delight of necktie and golf club makers everywhere.

Barbara Hillerman, Sonora Dodd’s only grandchild, 75, a college professor in Vienna, Austria, will be making her first trip to Spokane in decades for anniversary festivities.

“My relationship to her was as grandchild and grandmother,” Hillerman said in a telephone interview from Vienna. “One of my failures is we didn’t talk about Father’s Day.”

But “I sent my grandmother a Father’s Day card every year,” Hillerman said.

On the Web: www.fathersdaybirthplace.com

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