Adding to the socks & ties collection

Published 9:58 am Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Somewhere within the mountain of boxes littering the spare bedroom of my home (still unopened from our move exactly one year ago) is a plaque, or perhaps a coffee mug bearing the message….“Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.”

Perhaps by this Sunday (June 15), I’ll get around to finding that stored away treasure and dust it off just in time for that special time of the year most men look forward to….no, not the Super Bowl; no, not the Daytona 500….rather, Father’s Day. It’s a day set aside for us to add to our collection of socks, neckties and after shave cologne.

The 2014 version of this annual celebration on the third Sunday of June will be a special one within the Bryant household….and not because we may dig inside those boxes to see what other treasures await. On Sunday, my son-in-law, Brandon Harrell, has the chance to celebrate his very first Father’s Day. Like mother, like son, Brody Ray (despite being 6 months old) has already hit Papa up for the bank card so he can purchase something nice for his dad.

Father’s Day 2014 will also mark the 10th anniversary of my dad’s death. Ray Bryant left this world behind for a much better place on June 21, 2004. Father’s Day that year fell on June 20. I miss him every day and wish he was still here to enjoy his great-grandson….who bears his name.

Although not as popular as Mother’s Day, a special day set aside for fathers wasn’t recognized as a Federal holiday until 1972….thanks to a signature from Richard “I’m not a crook” Nixon. Mother’s Day has been around much longer, becoming an official holiday when President Woodrow Wilson approved a resolution in 1914 that made the second Sunday in May a holiday in honor of “that tender, gentle army, the mothers of America.”

However, according to, the men folk nearly beat the women folk to the punch over a holiday named in their honor. On July 19, 1910, the governor of the U.S. state of Washington proclaimed the nation’s first Father’s Day. Unfortunately, the governor’s efforts went basically unnoticed.

Two years before that, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in July of that year in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday.

In 1916, President Wilson went to Spokane, Washington to speak in a Father’s Day celebration and wanted to make it an official holiday, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized.

President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that a special day needed be observed by the nation in honor of fathers, but he stopped short of issuing a national proclamation.

In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers.

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day, but that effort did not become an official national holiday until Nixon signed it into law six years later.

No matter the history of this holiday, I encourage all those fortunate enough to still have their father alive to take the time on Sunday and spend some time with the man who helped bring you into this world.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or at 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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