Recently I was reading a Reader’s Digest article titled, “The Surprising History of Father’s Day.” I was surprised. Maybe you will be too. And then let me state what is not so surprising.

Mother’s Day had a fairly simple start, being celebrated as far back as the 1860s. It became a national holiday in 1914, paving the way for Father’s Day.

Reader’s Digest explained, “The history of Father’s Day goes back to 1908 when a church in West Virginia held a sermon to honor 362 men who were killed the previous year in a coal mining explosion. This was the country’s first ever event to strictly honor fathers, but it was just a one-and-done thing. Nothing really came of it.”

RD continues: “The following year, however, a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd started her quest to establish Father’s Day as a national holiday. Dodd was one of six raised by her single father and thought fathers should be honored the same way as mothers. After a year of petitioning her local community and government, Dodd’s home state of Washington celebrated its first official Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. Over the years, the celebration of Father’s Day spread from state to state and, after a long fight, it was finally declared a national holiday in 1972 when President Nixon signed it into law. (Don’t miss these touching dad quotes you’ll want to share this Father’s Day.)”

Sixty years passed before Father’s Day became a national holiday, and it was born through adversity just like fathering is. In fact, according to History.com, in the 1920s and 1930s there was a national movement to trash both Mother’s and Father’s Day and replace them with one “Parent’s Day.” I’m glad that didn’t happen.

Now Father’s Day is celebrated globally, but on different days by different countries. In South America, Father’s Day is March 19. In Australia and Fiji, it’s on the first Sunday in September. And of course in America and Europe, it falls on the third Sunday in June.

Whether or not one wants to celebrate Father’s Day is of course up to each person. What’s more critical is that we all elevate the role of fatherhood as a critical part of restoring the hearts and lives of our families, communities and country.

You’ve seen the stats, but ponder them anew.

The one common denominator of many of society’s ills – human trafficking, abortion, rape, murder, alcoholism, teen suicide and incarceration – can be traced to one thing: absentee fathers.

  • The US Department of Health indicates that 63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes, and that 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes too.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that 85 percent of all children who show behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes.
  • The international journal Criminal Justice and Behavior stated that 80 percent of rapists with anger problems come from homes where a father is absent.
  • Fatherless homes contribute to the national dropout rate among high school students too, revealing that 71 percent of all high school dropouts come from homes where a father is absent.

From these statistics alone, it is easy to see that men who have abdicated their role as fathers are the single greatest problem in society today. But it’s also the way to restore society as well.

Making America great again is not just an economic restoration. In fact, it’s more about making Americans great again. That includes the leaders of pack – the fathers. It’s truly staggering to consider the power of the paternal. The transformative power of dads in the entire family unit can be clearly seen in the Heritage Foundation’s YouTube video: “The Good Dad: “The Transformative Power of Fatherhood for Men and Children.” I encourage everyone to listen to it.

In the March 2018 edition of New Scientist, there was a great article titled, “Dad power: The surprising new science of fatherhood.” In it, Dr. Anna Machin, who is an anthropologist at the University of Oxford, discovered (or rediscovered) that fatherhood comes with a raft of changes to the mind and body. Those changes are taken for granted in mothers, but not often regarded or researched in men.

Some aspects of fatherhood come instinctively, but many others have to be learned and even championed. We all fail at aspects of fatherhood, but what’s important is never giving up on it. Failure is not fatal. We have to fight for fatherhood – ours and others. But the payoff is clear by reversing the above statistics.

I have seen a resurgence of many, many great fathers across our nation, and they remain among my greatest heroes, because they are in my opinion the models and keys to making America truly great again. Good for you, dads! Keep it up, and don’t let anyone (including yourself) minimize the true power you have as a dad. The truth is, the position of dad is far more powerful than the president.

For those who struggle with fatherhood, or think being a great dad will make you lose your toughness or masculinity, consider what Gen. Douglas Macarthur, who commanded the Southwest Pacific in World War II (1939-1945), said about fatherhood: “By profession I am a soldier and take pride in that fact. But I am prouder – infinitely prouder – to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle field but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven.’”

Which reminds me of one other tough-loving Father: God. The Hebrew Scripture says in Psalm 103:13: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.”

If we can restore the real role of fathers one family at a time across our country, we can restore our nation to its heights of glory. So let us begin with you and me. Don’t just expect others to celebrate your fatherhood on Father’s Day this year. Encourage the power of fatherhood in everyone you know, and let’s truly make America great again.

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