Beyond Old Windows: A Teacher's Thoughts Between Centuries

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Father's Day, June 20, 2010 ... one hundred years after a daughter's thoughts ...

The idea for an official Father’s Day celebration came to a married daughter, seated in a church in Spokane,Washington, attentive to a Sunday sermon on Mother’s Day in 1910-two years after the first Mother’s Day observance in West Virginia.

The daughter was Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd. During the sermon, which extolled maternal sacrifices made for children, Mrs. Dodd realized that in her own family it had been her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran, who had sacrificed -raising herself and five sons alone, following the early death of his wife in childbirth. For Mrs. Dodd, the hardships her father had endured on their eastern Washington farm called to mind the unsung feats of fathers everywhere.

Her proposed local Father’s Day celebration received strong support from the town’s ministers and members o fthe Spokane YMCA. The date suggested for the festivities, June 5, Mrs. Dodd’s father’s birthday, only three weeks away -had to be moved back to the nineteenth when ministers claimed they need extra time to prepare sermons on such a new subject as Father.

Newspapers across the country, already endorsing the need for a national Mother’s Day, carried stories about the unique Spokane observance. Interest in Father’s Day increased. Among the first notables to support Mrs. Dodd’s idea nationally was the orator and political leader William Jennings Bryan, who also backed Mother’s Day. Believing that fathers must not be slighted, he wrote to Mrs. Dodd, "too much emphasis cannot be placed upon the relation between parent and child."

Father’s Day, however, was not so quickly accepted as Mother’s Day. Members of the all-male Congress felt that a move to proclaim the day official might be interpreted as a self-congratulatory pat on the back.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the day. And in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended that states, if they wished, should hold their own Father’s Day observances. He wrote to the nation’s governors that "the widespread observance of this occasion is calculated to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children, and also to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations."

Many people attempted to secure official recognition for Father’s Day. One of the most notable efforts was made in 1957, by Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who wrote forcefully to Congress that "Either we honor both our parents, mother and father, or let us desist from honoring either one. But to single out just one of our two parents and omit the other is the most grievous insult imaginable."

Eventually, in 1972, sixty-two years after it was proposed, Father’s Day was permanently established by President Richard Nixon. Historians seeking an ancient precedent for an official Father’sDay observance have come up with only one: The Romans, every February, honored fathers - but only those deceased.


This information can be read at this site:


June 19, 2010 at 9:40 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 46

Flag Day is celebrated each year on June 14th. It falls among other patriotic holidays that feature the American Flag in their ceremonies.... Evacuation Day is celebrated in the city of Boston on March 17 as the day the British were forced off Dorchester Heights in South Boston. Patriot's Day commemorating the "shot heard round the world" that opened the American Revolutionary War in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts continues the season on the third Monday of April, though it is observed only  in Massachusetts, Maine, and Wisconsin. Memorial Day, formerly called Decoration Day, honoring those who "gave the last full measure of devotion" to our nation is observed on the last Monday of May.  Flag Day then occurs mid June, quickly followed three days later by Bunker Hill Day on June 17th (Bunker Hill Day, like Evacuation Day, is observed in Suffolk County of Massachusetts.) And quickly following these spring holidays is Independence Day, on July 4th each year. The American Flag is a honored in the celebration of each of these patriotic holidays.

A Flag Day celebration is particularly appropriate for Framingham, Massachusetts, as it was the site of the first factory established for manufacturing the American flag

The following information is an excerpt from a website, where activities and more information about Flag Day can be found (see the URL at the bottom of the excerpt.)

"The United States did not even have a standardized flag until 1912! Called the "Stars and Stripes," or "Old Glory," the flag is one of the most complicated in the world. No other flag needs 64 pieces of fabric to make. The current flag has 13 red and white alternating stripes (representing the original 13 states) and 50 stars (each star represents one of the states of the Union) on a blue background.

"The American flag has also changed designs more than any other flag in the world. The first flag, called the Grand Union, was first flown at the headquarters of the Continental Army on January 1, 1776. Betsy Ross, a seamstress, is said to have contributed to this design. She had an upholstery business which made flags for navy ships in Pennsylvania. A legend still persists that she showed George Washington how to make a five-pointed star and suggested thirteen stars in a circle for the first flag. Her descendants claimed that she offered the design. George Washington did design the Grand Union but an often-quoted remark attributed to him might not be true:

'We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separate it by white in stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her...'

"On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress proposed that the United States have a national flag instead of the British Union Jack. The 13 stars of the flag represented the 13 new states. There were few public ceremonies honoring the Stars and Stripes until 1877, when on, June 14, it was flown from every government building in honor of the centennial of the adoption of a national flag. Schools had unfurled American flags over their doors or outside the buildings long before this; but in 1890, North Dakota and New Jersey made a law that required their schools to fly the flag daily. The first official Flag Day was observed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1893. New York also proclaimedJune 14 as Flag Day 1897. Other states were slow to follow. Some people thought that the day was too close to Memorial Day and Independence Day.

"In August 1949, President Harry S. Truman proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. Since then the President proclaims the commemoration yearly, and encourages all Americans in the country to display the Stars and Stripes outside their homes and businesses. Individual states determine how they will observe the day."

To see more information on this holiday, go to this site:


June 20, 2010 at 9:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 46

Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September each year in America. In 2010, it is celebrated on September 6th.  In other countries similar celebratory observances are held on May 1st, where it is known as May Day.

US Department of Labor provides this history of the holiday created in the 19th century:


Labor Day ...  is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on LaborDay to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership— the American worker."

excerpt from

In recent decades, Labor Day has marked the end of summer vacations for students and teachers, though this year we are heading back to the classroom early, to compensate for anticipated snow cancellations through the winter. The heat of late August is oppressive, but no more than the heat of late June, and students have more energy and enthusiasm for new materials at the beginning of the school year.

So happy Labor Day, all American Workers ... whether blue collar or white, service or business, government or self-employed .... take pride in what we together have accomplished in this country. Buy American!

For the first time in my teaching career,we have had students in classrooms before Labor Day. And so, I went tothe Department of Labor to find a passage explaining the history andpurpose of the holiday, it's celebrations and meanings. On the Friday before Labor Day, in the sweltering fifth day of above 90 degree temperatures, my social studies department leader read the announcement. I spoke of the day earlier in my classes, and asked them to listen carefully for the announcement. I also asked them to be sureto thank each American worker they encountered on Monday - whether it be at an ice cream shoppe, in the mall at a store, or along the highwayas they traveled to or from their holiday destination ... the gas station attendants, the toll takers, the food servers ... Few if any of these workers formally belong to a union, of course, but they, too, are part ofthe American Labor story.

Our economy today is not worker-friendly .. many families exist on multiple part-time jobs that offer no benefits and little security to the American worker. In time, the meaning of this day, the celebration of the accomplishments and achievements of the American worker, the toil and sweat and muscle of our nation, will lapse into a memory.  Don't let that happen in your family, in your classroom, in your workplace. Visit the labor site, and talk with people about how the present is the result of the past ...and what today's economic stance implies for the future ... please, Buy American.

For a poem that supports these sentiments, go to the podcast page of this site and listen to Langston Hughes' "Let America Be America Again."

For more information on the history of Labor Day, visit

Celebrate the American Worker, and say thank you to each one you meet as they work through their holiday.






August 29, 2010 at 4:33 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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