On Sunday, June 15, families throughout the US and in much of the world will celebrate Father’s Day. (As is the case with Mother’s Day, the singular, although grammatically incorrect, is the official spelling as the bill approving the holiday was written that way.) The idea of FD was to have a holiday for fathers to complement Mother’s Day. It is a day to recognize and honor fathers and their influence in the family and in society, in general. In this blog I will not only outline the history of the holiday and its manner of celebration throughout the world, but also profile a few of the more famous father-son duos.

The first FD celebration was in Spokane, WA in 1910. The driving force behind it was Sonora Smart Dodd, who wanted to honor her father, a Civil War veteran and single parent who had raised six children. As one would expect, her cause was aided and abetted by certain trade groups, such as manufacturers of tobacco, pipes, ties and similar groups that would be logical sources of presents for fathers. Interestingly, many Americans resisted the idea of FD, viewing it as a thinly veiled attempt by these trade groups to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day for their own benefit. For example, the media portrayed it cynically and sarcastically, even making it the subject of humorous cartoons, and for many years Congress, despite the urgings of various Presidents, refused to make it an official holiday. Finally, in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a Presidential Proclamation designating the 3rd Sunday in June as FD. The law making the holiday permanent was passed in 1972 and signed by President Richard Nixon.

FD is celebrated on various dates throughout the world. About 60 countries, including Canada, Cuba, Greece, Hong Kong and the UK, among others, celebrate it on the 3rd Sunday of June. Some countries, such as Russia (February 23 – Defender of the Fatherland Day), Germany (Ascension Day), and South Korea (May 8 – Parents’ Day), celebrate it in conjunction with another holiday. In addition, FD is not designated as a public holiday in many countries, such as Canada, Hong Kong and Japan, among others. The most common method of celebration is family gatherings, although father-son/daughter outings, such as ballgames, fishing, or golf, are also common. Unlike Mother’s Day when families tend to eat out (Many restauranteurs claim MD is their busiest day of the year.), FD seems to be a day for family barbecues, where the father does most of the work even though it is his day.

There are and have been hundreds of famous father-son duos in politics, sports and entertainment. In baseball alone, over 100 father-son duos, and two grandfather-father-son trios have played in the major leagues. In the interest of time and space, I will profile only a few.

POLITICS – We are all familiar with the Kennedy and Bush families. In the Kennedy family, Joe, the Patriarch, was Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Head of the SEC, and very influential in politics, both locally and nationally. Three of his sons were also very active, to say the least. John was a Senator and President; Robert was a Senator, Attorney General and a viable candidate for President until he was assassinated; Ted was a longtime Senator; and various other cousins have been and are active in politics. The Bush Family is one of two families to boast two Presidents, George and George W., and Jeb Bush has been Governor of Florida and is a possible candidate for President. But, many are not aware of the Adams family (no, not the TV show). John was the first VP and second President of the US. He was also one of the Founding Fathers of the country and a leading advocate of freedom from England. John Quincy, his son, was the sixth President of the US. In addition, he was a diplomat for many years. One of his accomplishments was to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent with England, which ratified the end of the War of 1812.

SPORTS – As I mentioned earlier there have been a plethora of father-son duos. There have been over a hundred in baseball alone. However, there have been two grandfather-father-son trios in the major leagues. Ray Boone was an infielder who played in the 1940s and 1950s mostly for the Cleveland Indians. Bob was a catcher in the 1970s and 1980s for the Phillies. Aaron and Bret were infielders who played for various teams in the 2000s. The Bell Family also boasts four major leaguers over three generations. David Russell (Gus) Bell was an outfielder for various teams, mostly Cincinnati, in the 1950s and 1960s. David Gus (Buddy) Bell was a third baseman for various teams in the 1970s and 1980s. His sons, David and Michael were also major league third basemen. David played for various teams in the 2000s, and Michael had a very brief career (called a “cup of coffee”) with the Reds in 2000. I would also like to give honorable mention to the Manning Family, Archie, Peyton and Eli, all of whom played or currently play quarterback in the NFL with different levels of success and achievement. Additionally, I should mention the Albert Family, probably the most successful family of announcers. Marv was the voice of the NY Knicks from 1967 – 2004 (“yes!). He has been called the “voice of basketball” and is in the Basketball Hall of Fame. His son, Kenny, is currently one of the lead announcers for the NBA and NHL, and brothers Steve and Al have also been announcers.

ENTERTAINMENT – There are many famous father-son duos in the field of entertainment. However, in my opinion, the most famous, talented and successful of the group is the Barrymore Family. The best of the group were Lionel, Ethel, and John, who were siblings, however, numerous other members of the extended Barrymore Family, including, among others parents Maurice and Georgiana, John’s son, John, Jr., and granddaughter Drew, John’s granddaughter, also achieved success in the theatre and/or in movies. Lionel was very successful in movies, on the stage, on radio and as a director over a 60 year period from the 1890s to the 1950s. Ethel and John were also very successful on the stage and in movies during roughly the same period. Drew is known as an actress and screenwriter.


The weather today is perfect, at least in the NY area. Enjoy your holiday. Do something special with your father. Remember, you only have one.


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