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 recognized as a national holiday. Although they declared Mother’s Day 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 holiday in 1972.
Father’s Day with a Dad in the Navy
I don’t remember many years I celebrated his day with my father. 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. (You can read more about my father during my early years here.)
My Father Francis Leo Knott
Dad at Great Lakes
In the early 1960s, Dad 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 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 probably 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 while I was there. One day, he took me to see his ship, the aircraft carrier, the USS Kearsarge. He gave me a tour of the ship. I transferred to a school on Treasure Island a few weeks later, and he went to Great Lakes for his last assignment before retiring.
He and I were rarely home together even after he retired in 1970. After finishing the Navy schools, it was I who had only 30 days leave a year to spend at home, though my duty assignments overseas often prevented spending those days with my parents.
Things changed after I retired in 1992. My wife and I and two children settled in Maryland. A long drive enabled us to spend many holidays. These short visits brought my father and me closer together than any of the longer 30-days 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. I remember the first time he called me a “Damned Yankee” shook my timbers. He claimed I was the reason the Cowboys lost a Super Bowl to the Steelers. I think he meant the Baltimore Colts. Other times he acted angry, perhaps because I, from Illinois, and a Sailor dated his daughter. In time, it became an inside joke we shared until he passed in 2007. In time, I became comfortable in his presence and enjoyed our conversations.
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. They created this holiday to honor men such as my father and my father-in-law.
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.