On July 5, 1908 in Fairmont, West Virginia Grace Golden Clayton was mourning the loss of her father when, on December 1907, the Monongah Mining Disaster in nearby Monongah killed 361 men, 250 of them fathers, leaving around a thousand fatherless children. At Clayton’s request, a service to honor fathers was held every year on the Sunday closest to Clayton’s father’s birthday. Although the event wasn’t promoted outside the town, this is the earliest recorded service honoring fathers.
Clayton might have found her inspiration from Anna Jarvis’ crusade to establish Mother’s Day; two months prior, Jarvis had held a celebration for her dead mother in Grafton, West Virginia, a town about 15 miles (24 km) away from Fairmont. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972. This coming Sunday honor your father figures who have made an impact on your life. It doesn’t have to be only your father. Step-fathers, grandfathers, great-grand fathers, and other key male role-models who are important to you can also be recognized on this day, too.