fathersstories November 18, 2010

The “Mother” of Father’s Day

Sonora Smart was born in 1882 in Arkansas. Her parents were William Smart, a Civil War veteran, and his wife, Ellen. The family eventually moved west and settled in Washington.

When Sonora was 16, her mother died giving birth to her sixth child. Of that event it was written,

…the day had its nativity in a lonely farm dwelling. There Sorrow ministered amid the moaning of the March winds. A father sat with bowed head in his aloneness. About him clung his weeping children. The winds outside threw great scarves of powdered snow against the window panes, when suddenly one of the children tore himself from the group and rushed out into the storm calling for his mother. Yet even his childish voice could not penetrate the great silence that held this mother.

Hurriedly, the father gathered him back to his protection. For more than two decades, William Smart, alone, kept paternal vigilance over his motherless children.
Sonora Smart held her father in great esteem. At age 27, while hearing a church sermon about the newly celebrated Mother’s Day, Sonora felt strongly that fathers needed recognition as well. Inspired by her father’s love and sacrifice, she urged the Spokane Ministerial Alliance to pass a resolution, and the first Father’s Day was celebrated June 19, 1910. Today in the U.S., Canada and many other countries, on the third Sunday in June we honor fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers, uncles, and other men for the important role they play in our lives.