Over My Shoulder: Well Done, Dads and Grads

by Ann Robson

In June we celebrate “Dads and Grads”, recognizing that without the former, the latter wouldn’t happen.

Father’s Day has been an official holiday only since 1972 when Richard Nixon signed it into law.  It has a long history of being a political football, starting with Woodrow Wilson who proposed a national recognition of fathers parallel to the recent proclamation of celebrating mothers on the second Sunday in May passed in 1914. His advisers discouraged him saying that commercial interests might enter into the celebration.  Calvin Coolidge ran into the same opposition.  The proposal to recognize fathers was defeated by Congress for several years.  Lyndon Baines Johnson brought the matter up in 1966 but it took 6 more years to become official.

Around the world many countries have celebrated fathers for centuries, often on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph.  Several parts of our country held special services for fathers at different times of the year. The official proclamation set the third Sunday in June as a day to honor fathers.

Although they poured cold water on Wilson’s wish, it seems his advisors were correct in their prediction about commercialization. There is no official day for grads so some crafty greeting card person decided to combine dads and grads and double their opportunity for marketing and sales.

Regardless of the commercial reasons, honoring fathers and their children who are graduating from either high school or college is very nice thing. In all of the festivity, fathers should still come first. They are the ones who went to work every day to earn a living for their families. Fathers do much more than earn a living; they are partners with their spouses in raising a child or children. 

Fathers raising children alone are becoming more numerous. They have to do the work of mother and father, learning on the job. Often the mothers of these single dads are their main backup. While we have praised and supported single moms for years, we’re just getting used to having single dads as part of our society.  

There’s a problem with any celebration. What if you didn’t have a great dad? We have to admit there are some cases where dads have not been loving, supportive role models.  On Father’s Day it’s not easy to say “thanks, job well done” to such men. Usually the children of these fathers have found another role model. The card companies have cards for those who’ve been “like a father.”

Grads have earned our appreciation for their achievements.  High School grads going on to college will graduate again.  College is not for every high school grad. We need to recognize there are many other worthwhile pursuits after high school which are just as important to society as a college degree.  We applaud all our grads and wish them well.

On June 16 let’s remember all the little things our dads have done for us — reading us a bedtime story, getting up in the middle of the night to rescue a pet cat in the pouring rain, teaching us how to drive, showing us how to be a good citizen, loving our moms.

Thanks, Dads. Good luck, Grads.

Ann Robson is the author of “Over My Shoulder: Tales of Life and Death and Everything In Between.” She can be reached at overmyshoulder@charter.net .