Father's Day fast facts

• There are more than 70 million fathers in the United States.

• On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Co. mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday.

• The next year, a Spokane, Wash. woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910.

• In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C.

• In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day.

• During the 1920s and 1930s, a movement arose to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in favor of Parents’ Day.

• During the Depression, struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men.

• When World War II began, advertisers began to argue that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday, but it was a national institution.

• In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday
• Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.
Source: History.com