Father’s Day, the celebration recognizing father’s originated in Spokane, Washington in 1910. A daughter asked her pastor to honor her father in a sermon in June. It did not catch on until the 1930s when different commercial entities recognized the opportunity to sell products targeted as gifts for fathers of Father’s Day.
It was inadequate to gain the day recognition as a national holiday. Although Mother’s Day was declared a national holiday in 1914, Father’s Day languished as a celebration. After multiple attempts over the years to have it declared a holiday, President Richard Nixon signed the law making it a national holidays in 1972.
Father’s Day with a Dad in the Navy
I don’t remember many years my Father and I celebrated Father’s Day together. He made the U. S. Navy a career and spent most of the year gone. I never learned why the decision to locate us in Illinois while he did his tours of duty at sea and shore far from us. It was always a treat when he took leave, sometimes 30 days in a year, at home. When he deployed, he sent many letters and gifts from exotic places such as Thailand, Japan, Singapore, and others I can’t remember. We sent him letters and cards to let him know how much we missed him. We signed every letter with love.
Dad at Great Lakes
In the early 1960s, Dad was transferred to Great Lake, Illinois just a three to three and half hour drive away. He came home the standard 30 days a year plus at least a weekend every month. His presence this often gave me contradictory feelings. As the oldest, I was the man of the house except for those 30 days. Dad relieved me of that responsibility year round since he came home often enough to influence events throughout the year. Thinking back, I resented the demotion. His tour at Great Lakes lasted three years before he received orders to the USS Kearsarge (CV33).
1966 – 2002
I joined the Navy in 1966. Either join the Navy or let the Army draft me. I spent boot camp in San Diego, California. I spent a few days with my Father there visiting him on the Kearsarge. He gave me a tour of the ship. I transferred to Treasure Island, California for school and transferred to Great Lakes for his last assignment before retiring. He and I were rarely home together even after he retired in 1970. Things turned around with me have 30 days or less with him at home. Things changed after I retired in 1992. My wife and I and two children settled in Maryland. I long drive enabled us to spend many holidays. These short visits brought us closer together than any of the longer 30 day leaves ever did. I lost him on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 2002.
I met my Father-in-Law in 1973. My wife and I had dated a few times before she introduced us. To say he intimidated me is an understatement. I was 160 pounds on a spindly 6-foot frame. He was an imposing man, big framed, confident, and well versed with firearms. The later I learned when he talked of the shooting events he had won.
He exuded confidence while I shivered in his presence the first few times we spoke. In time, I became comfortable in his presence and enjoyed the conversations we had. But I remember the first time he called me a “Damned Yankee” shook my timbers. He appeared angry but wasn’t. I thought he was angry that I, from Illinois, and a sailor dated his daughter. In time, it became an inside joke we shared until he passed in 2007.
Father’s Day today
My Father and my Father-in-Law were men I spent far less time with than I now wish I had. They left indelible imprints on my life. Men of integrity who honored their commitment to family and country. This holiday was created to honor men such as them.
To the millions of fathers, may you have a wonderful and memorable Father’s Day!
Let us not forget women who are, both, mother and father to those in their lives.
Do you have a favorite memory of your father? Tell me using the comments form.