by Elpidio R. Estioko
One of the Ten Commandments in the Hebrew Bible says: “Honor thy father and thy mother.” The commandment is generally regarded in Protestant and Jewish sources as the fifth in both the list in Exodus 20:1-21, and in Deuteronomy (Dvarim) in 5:1-23 as Catholics count this as the fourth.
Last month, we honored our mothers for doing such a wonderful job in raising their children. As May is for Mother’s Day, the month of June is for Father’s Day. Fathers deserve to be recognized, just like all the mothers!
It is difficult to raise our children… but it is even more difficult if a father single-handedly raised them. I tell you, it’s really a tough job! I have six children with my wife Delia and we really struggled to raise them.
I can’t just imagine my parents raising us 13 children (10 boys, 3 girls; I’m the 11th in the family) at that time! How much more if a father single-handedly raises them all?
Just like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day has a history that goes well beyond greeting cards and in-person salutations.
Records show that the first-known Father’s Day service happened on July 5, 1908. A mother, Grace Golden Clayton, asked pastor Dr. R. Thomas Webb at the William Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church in Fairmont, West Virginia, if a Sunday service could be held to honor fathers.
It took a woman to initiate the event, a gesture she did to remember her father who single-handedly raised them to maturity, but she extended the service-request to fathers in general.
Her father died, together with over 200 fathers, in the Monongah mining explosion, a few miles south of Fairmont, on December 6, 1907. The explosion occurred in Fairmont Coal Company’s No. 6 and No. 8 mines. It killed more than 360 men and boys and left about 1,000 children fatherless.
Mrs. Clayton thought of having a service to remember not only his father, but to all fathers who raised their children and were victims of the incident.
The Fairmont service did not turn into an annual event but a few years later, it gained momentum. In fact, it paved the way to becoming a US holiday.
Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd was credited for being the one who popularized Father’s Day. Again, it took another woman to popularize it until such time that it became a national holiday.
Mrs. Dodd thought, after listening to a sermon on Mother’s Day in 1909, it might be nice to honor Father’s Day as well. When her mom died, her father William Smart raised his six children alone in his farm in Washington. She proposed to the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA that they celebrate Father’s Day. She chose June 5 because it was her father’s birthday.
The ministers of Spokane approved it, after many of the members of her congregation supported the idea strongly but asked that the day be changed to a later date to give them more time to prepare. So, the first Father’s Day in Spokane, Washington was observed on Sunday, June 19, 1910. Since then, it became an annual celebration in Spokane and nearby towns had their own celebrations as well on that day.
Despite widespread support, however, Father’s Day did not become a permanent national holiday. In 1913, Congress introduced a bill, but despite encouragement and support by President Woodrow Wilson, it did not pass legislation. Luckily, in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June to honor fathers.
In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a law declaring that Father’s Day be celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June. It has been an official, permanent national holiday ever since.
I won’t forget one Father’s Day celebration in my own family with all my children present.
In June 2018, my children tendered a Father’s Day sumptuous dinner for me at Fortune Restaurant in Milpitas. It was a day of fun and full of bonding reminiscing our memories as a family through the years. That was the first time in 10 years, that we were complete as a family. Due to physical distance, my children being in faraway places with their own families, we didn’t have a chance to celebrate it together annually.
My eldest Edel “Gigi” Estioko Malapitan came home from Sydney, Australia where she resides with her husband Eric, who was not able to join us due to prior work commitment in the hospital.
My second to the eldest John Edward “Jojo” from Jacksonville, Florida was joined by his wife Alvi and children Reanna Kayla and Jeanna Camille.
Mary Rose and her boyfriend Steve Law were with us too!
At that time, newlywed Rose Anne Joy “Tweety” was with her husband Jonathan Carino Rasay, who is in the US Army assigned in Oahu, Hawaii.
The rest of the children include Charles Jayson and Paul Joseph. All of them chipped in to pay the bills (a siblings’ way of sharing) as a sign of their love for me. Of course, my wife Delia was with us to complete the family celebrating Father’s Day.
To all the fathers in the world, I honor you and recognize your efforts in raising your children and the sacrifices you went through. Happy Fathers’ Day to all of you. You deserve the best accolade!
To all would-be fathers, you will be going through the process of raising your future children too, a practice all of us fathers went through. Love your children and raise them to be worthy members of the family and to the community!
Just like our mothers, let’s recognize our fathers too!
ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at email@example.com.
by Elpidio R. Estioko