Thoughts On Father's Day

In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge publicly supported plans for a national Father's Day. Coolidge said of his father after his death: "He was a man of untiring industry and great tenacity of purpose... He always stuck to the truth. I cannot recall that I ever knew of his doing a wrong thing. He would be classed as decidedly a man of character."

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Coolidge wrote most about his father in his autobiography. He was in awe of his dad. His dad was generous, charitable, and regarded waste as a moral wrong. He wanted "to grow up to be like him."

In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed Father's Day to be an official national holiday. His father was known as "A man who loved his fellow man." Lyndon, in his childhood, wanted nothing more than to be like his dad, to try to replicate him in every way. It is said that at his core, Lyndon never ceased loving his dad. He admired what he stood for.

It wasn't until 1972, though, that President Richard Nixon signed into law a permanent U.S. Father's Day to be observed on the third Sunday of June. One biographer called Nixon's dad "the most influential teacher in Richard's life." His dad was "the driving force" in their family. Nixon wrote, "There was never a day I was not proud of him (my dad)."

Today, do Americans believe a strong dad in the home is necessary? We can take small doses of elderly dads portrayed on TV-say, Martin Crane of Frasier and Arthur Spooner of The King of Queens. Most likely, none of these dads are like the dad we grew up with. They seem funny and easy to put up with in their son or daughter's home. In each case, the dad isn't caring for his child. His adult child is caring for him.