At the Christian Science Monitor, Peter Grier reminds readers that, as I noted previously, it was Richard Nixon who made Father’s Day an official national observance:
The holiday’s popularity built slowly over the years. In 1957, GOP Sen. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine blasted her congressional colleagues for ignoring Father’s Day, saying that to single out one parent (Mom) while ignoring the other was “the most grievous insult imaginable.” But it was not until 1971 that Congress passed a bill in favor of making Father’s Day a national holiday.
That’s where Dick Nixon comes in. At the time, his reelection campaign was ratcheting up, and we’ll bet this looked like a political no-brainer. In response to Congress, on April 25, 1972, he issued a proclamation that officially made the third Sunday in June “an occasion for renewal of the love and gratitude we bear to our fathers.”
He also describes what news greeted the President on that Sunday:
But in the Nixon household, that year’s Father’s Day was not happy.
First of all, America’s first dad was familyless. He was in Key Biscayne, Fla. His wife was in Los Angeles. His daughters were elsewhere. (Press accounts of the day note that the girls called.)
This was probably just as well. Sunday, June 18, 1972 – the first government-sanctioned Father’s Day in United States history – was the day news broke about a burglary the previous night at the Democratic National Committee office in the Watergate complex.
The secrets of Watergate would eventually spill out and doom Nixon’s presidency. Here’s hoping that on that fateful Father’s Day, someone at least gave him a card or a nice tie.