COLUMN: Happy Father's Day
General Douglas MacArthur said, "By profession, I am a soldier and take pride in that fact. But I am prouder – infinitely prouder – to be a father."
On Sunday, June 17, we will honor fathers and remember those who are no longer with us as we recognize their influence in society.
I was blessed to have an amazing father who led by his example and taught my sisters and me to be honest, hard-working, productive citizens. He taught us to try to make the world a better place through volunteering in our communities and service to others.
Earl Wentworth has been gone for many years, but my memories of him bring me great comfort and peace.
Many children will send Father's Day wishes to dads overseas this year. A grateful nation recognizes those in our Armed Forces who have sacrificed so much, leaving loved ones at home while they fight terrorism on the other side of the world.
Some families have special traditions for Father's Day. It may be a family brunch after church, an annual fishing trip or a weekend of camping. For many, it's simply a tight hug around the neck and a whispered, "Happy Father's Day, Dad."
Being a father is the most rewarding job in the world, and sometimes the funniest.
Comedian Bill Cosby said that fatherhood is pretending the present you love best is soap-on-a-rope.
Karla and I have two adult sons, Jason and Matthew. I know they can identify with Mark Twain's famous remark: "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."
It took 59 years of effort before the United States had a national Father's Day.
The first bill to give national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson spoke at a Father's Day celebration. He wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing it would become commercialized. Imagine that.
In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended that the day be observed by the nation, but he did not issue a national proclamation. Two earlier attempts to recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress.
In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith accused Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers.
In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers. He designated the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. But it was six years later that the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.
Americans didn't really need "an Act of Congress" to celebrate Father's Day. It was celebrated by families as an unofficial holiday for years before it was signed into law. Americans, as usual, knew best.
To fathers everywhere, best wishes for a wonderful Father's Day with your family.
This column was written by Texas State Sen. Jeff Wentworth.
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