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Contemplating the Meaning behind What We Have Missed

The months of May and June are filled with meaningful dates to American patriots, historians, and sentimentalists— Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May, Memorial Day on the fourth Monday, D-Day (the allied liberation of Western Europe in 1944) June 6, Flag Day June 14, and Father’s Day the third Sunday in June, which in 2020 will be June 21.

These are unprecedented times for carrying out the countless notable events and actions of gratitude and remembrance associated with these dates.

Shopping for moms and dads in retail stores or malls for gifts on their special days or treating them to a meal at a restaurant: Did not happen or will not happen this year as it has in the past.

The Blinded Veterans Association’s participation in a Presidential wreath laying ceremony and the presentation of our own wreath at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns on Memorial Day: Cancelled for the first time in at least 36 years of the tradition.

D-Day Commemorations and Flag Day Ceremonies and Parades: All suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19 except in cases in which virtual presentations are possible.

Having these routine opportunities and blessings wrestled from us, and rather abruptly, may not be an easy adjustment for many. Nevertheless, aside from the tragedies and trials now endured by those affected directly by the pandemic, the mere change in lifestyle brings its own silver lining and blessings as we are left to contemplate the significance of these special days and dates—and to learn more about how they came about.

The only alternative would be to forget them entirely, not a desirable option for most of us.

Consider the significance of Father’s Day, for example, with a brief history. A year after the first Mother’s Day in 1908, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington believed her father deserved a day too. He was William Jackson Smart, who just happened to be a Civil War veteran and a single father to 14 children after he had been widowed twice. Sonora suggested Father’s Day to her local ministers and businesses, and a year later the city of Spokane celebrated the first Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. Historical records reveal that Sonora spent the day handing out gifts and cards to war veterans. Those with a living father wore a red rose while others wore white roses in honor of dads who had already.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson spent the third Sunday of June in Spokane. The date then found its way onto many calendars from that point forward but gained no official national recognition until Lyndon Johnson issued a presidential proclamation in 1966 honoring fathers. In 1972, Richard Nixon signed a Congressional resolution that finally made the third Sunday in June officially Father’s Day, a national holiday. Sonora Dodd, still living at 90 years old, had seen the fruits of her lifelong effort to honor fathers.

Throughout this trying season of history, let us remember the significance of Father’s Day, particularly the dads who have faithfully served our country in uniform. Let us also contemplate the many other meaningful days on the calendar that remind us how we became who we are in this great nation.