For Father’s Day, take Obama’s Fatherhood pledge


Don’t just give Dad a gift. Do something special with Dad. If you’re not near an ocean, pick an idea in our column today.SUNDAY, JUNE 17: Happy Father’s Day!

NEW FOR 2012: President Obama’s Fatherhood Pledge. This is a politically contentious year, but the White House is trying to respond directly to families this Father’s Day with a personal note from the president, who famously grew up without a father. There’s a special website run by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services that invites Dad’s to sign President Obama’s Fatherhood Pledge. That also gives you updates, resources and tips from fatherhood organizations and some well-known dads.

Want gift and holiday ideas? The nation’s more than 70 million dads are hoping to put up their feet and enjoy a day just for them. Find out how to make that backyard throne, a handmade gift and dad-centered cuisine at the Disney-sponsored website. Of course, most fatherhood organizations recommend doing much more than relaxing today—so “Take Time to Be a Dad Today!” If you’re in need of ideas for low-cost ways to spend time with the family, check out a list of suggestions from That website is set up to post new ideas, each week, so you can pace yourself with good ideas.


Buffalo Bob Smith, host of the Howdy Doody show, was a big promoter of Father’s Day. In 1948, he staged this special Father’s Day broadcast. LOOK CLOSELY: You’ll see ventriloquist Paul Winchell with Jerry Mahoney (and one of his daughters) on his knees. You’ll also spot comedian Morey Amsterdam, famous from the Dick Van Dyke Show, with his son — just above Buffalo Bob’s pith helmet atop the piano.Unlike its Mother’s Day counterpart, Father’s Day took decades to catch on in the United States. (Wikipedia has the history, as does Several countries around the world honor men and dads on various days, but America’s specific Father’s Day was largely dismissed as a commercialized gimmick for much of the 20th century. It took 62 years for the nation to accept a holiday that was celebrated in Washington State in 1910, and its primary lobbyist—Sonora Smart Dodd—saw the first national observance when she was a ripe old 90 years.

While sitting in church one warm Sunday morning, Sonora Dodd felt uneasy. The year was 1909, and Dodd’s pastor was preaching about the newly founded Mother’s Day. Yet Dodd had lost her mother to a childbirth death when she was 16, and her father had raised their six children by himself from then on. Grateful to her father for his devotion to a happy family, Dodd approached the preacher and asked that a day be devoted to fathers, too. The first Father’s Day was observed in Dodd’s home state, Washington, in 1910; Dodd would spend the rest of her life pushing for a national day for dads. Finally, it was President Lyndon B. Johnson who issued the first presidential proclamation honoring dads, and in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed it into law. (Get Father’s Day stats and much more from the U.S. Government.)

Today, we all say: Thanks, Dad!

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