THIS EDITORIAL first ran in The Daily Star in 2001. It runs again this year in tribute to all dads for Father’s Day.
Sunday is Father’s Day.
In 1909, Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington, proposed the idea of a “father’s day” because she wanted to honor her father, William Smart, a single parent decades ago, according to Holidays on the Net.
Smart, a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife died in childbirth with their sixth child.
The first Father’s Day was observed on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Wash., and about that time, other people across America were celebrating a “father’s day.” In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day.
It seems appropriate that the holiday is in June, when trees reach toward the sky, having released energy in spring and having spread branches bursting with leaves. They stand strong, proud and beautiful.
Like trees, fathers come in all shapes and sizes. Like a lone tree on a landscape or among others on a mountainside, a father is there to project a message by being seen, to shelter and, later, be a reminder of good times and learning days.
Within a tree, strong branches offer a foundation and different levels to see the world. The leaves give protection from the winds and weather of life. Leaves provide shade, and even the evergreen with needles that prickle on first touch can offer a soft, comforting retreat closer to the tree trunk.
And the trunk is the sturdiest part. To be close to it is to be safe.
The tree’s hidden strength is in its roots, which reach deep into the ground for nourishment. Inside the tree grow the rings of its history, recording the years with curving lines.
The tree stands to protect young ones springing up nearby.
In American society, fathers are often seen as the outwardly strong leaders in the family who look out for their family’s best interests.
Fathers can also be nurturing, loving and kind, delighting just as much as mothers over baby’s first steps, or shedding tears when milestones mark children’s passage into adolescence and adulthood.
And father figures can take shape as stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers or other adult males who have been role models.
In national parks, communities and countrysides across the United States, trees grow wild and dense in woods, tall as redwoods and familiar on residential lawns.
Sometimes just knowing a tree is there is reassuring.
Whether deceased or still living in the back yard, across town or states away, the tree of fatherhood stands within the hearts of all of us. Father’s Day is a day to remember good times, celebrate being together and appreciate the gift of fatherhood.