Hail Dad On Father's Day 2009
This coming Sunday, Father's Day 2009, fathers throughout the borough, the city, the state and the country will be getting their usual Father's Day gifts—ties, socks, aftershave, perhaps a new golf club or fishing rod. Some of the gifts will be shyly produced by a blushing youngster who hopes Daddy will like what was carefully crafted in school or with the help of a mother or older sibling; others will have been tastefully and expensively swathed in the best paper and ribbon a store's gift wrapping department could supply before being carefully placed in a carton and shipped across town or across the globe. No matter. A Father's Day gift acknowledges that a father—or anyone standing in as a father substitute—has himself given the child a gift beyond price.
Despite decades and even centuries of research and evidence, often we tend to downplay, if not outright denigrate, the part a father plays in a child's life. The role of mother is readily understood. Mothers carry through pregnancy, give birth, nurse, train, nurture and tend. Until fairly recently it was widely thought that fathers had relatively little to do with how their children grew and developed. Now, of course, we know that fathers do more than contribute half of a child's DNA. Research has shown that a father is the first male figure in a child's life. How men treat their children in large measure determines the kind of persons their sons and daughters will become. Other studies have demonstrated what common sense has told fathers—and mothers— for generations: children who achieve most, have the most self-confidence and are best equipped to take on an increasingly complicated and confusing world have grown up in an environment where a father or father figure was part of their daily lives.
That fathers are a vital part of their children's existence was recognized long before the holiday became part of the American lexicon. The woman whose efforts are responsible for making Father's Day part of American life, Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd, was one of six children reared by her single-parent father, Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, after her mother died. Dodd was the moving force behind the first celebration of Father's Day on June 19, 1910 and campaigned for a day of recognition of American fathers for the rest of her life. In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson fixed the date of Father's Day as the third Sunday in June and his successor in office, Richard Nixon, made the holiday official in 1972.
In too many instances, the importance of fathers or father surrogates on children's physical, emotional, psychological and social well being is ignored or glossed over. It seems little enough, indeed, to take one day out of the calendar to acknowledge the importance of fathers in all our lives. On this Father's Day 2009, we wish happiness to all the fathers and father figures we know. We hope our readers will join us in doing the same.