June 18, 2012

Honoring Fathers

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

While the holiday has roots that stretch back more than a century, our nation has been officially observing Father's Day for 46 years.  In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd was listening to a Mother's Day sermon and reflecting on all her father had done for her family when she had an idea to establish a day to honor fathers.  Sonora's father, William Jackson Smart, was a Civil War veteran who raised Sonora and her five siblings by himself on a farm after his wife died during childbirth.  Since Sonora's father's birthday was in June, June was selected for the first celebration in Sonora's hometown of Spokane, Washington. 

In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended that Father's Day become a national holiday.  But it was not until 1966, that President Lyndon Johnson established the observance of Father's Day on the third Sunday of June.  In 1972, President Richard Nixon made this holiday permanent. 

Fathers take care of us, and one Father's Day idea is to encourage them to also take care of themselves.  Men often pay too little attention to their health until a serious problem emerges.  According to the Men's Health Network, men have a higher death rate for most of the leading causes of death, including heart disease and cancer.  Additionally, the life expectancy of men is approximately five years lower than the life expectancy for women.  Maintaining healthy lifestyles and preventive efforts are fundamental to changing these statistics.  

Men's health concerns affect far more than men alone.  They affect families and loved ones.  Men's health is also a concern for employers who are impacted by the costs of medical care and who lose productive employees when health problems occur.  It can also create burdens on federal and state governments that absorb the costs of premature death and disability, including the costs of caring for dependents left behind. 

We can teach our children by example.  Through healthy nutrition choices, and staying active, we not only have a better chance of catching problems early, but we also hopefully pass on healthy practices to our children.  Recognizing that the Father's Day holiday was established to honor fathers for what they have done for their families, it is important to remember that by taking care of themselves, fathers can in turn care for their families.

This father's day, I will recall fondly what my father did for me and hope that I can pass on his important lessons to my children.

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