Defense Update: Father’s Day
First, Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, but especially to our military fathers and especially, especially to those military fathers who will be spending Father’s Day far away from their loved ones.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said it best in his Father’s Day message to the troops (below): “Over the past year as Secretary of Defense, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of you deployed around the world. I’ve seen how you focus on the mission while enduring extended periods away from loved ones. Through it all, you’ve shown courage on the battlefield and tenderness to your families at home.”
More of Panetta’s message — and the President’s — later. But, first, did you know (I didn’t) that Father’s Day was not recognized as a national observance until 1972? In that year President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday — 58 years after Mother’s Day began. Six years earlier, Lyndon B. Johnson had issued the first Presidential Father’s Day Proclamation setting aside the third Sunday in June in celebration of fathers. Each year since then, the Presidents have issued yearly Father’s Day proclamations.
Talking about presidents, as fathers and grandfathers they have also enjoyed the Father’s Day celebration.
The Presidential Libraries of the U.S. National Archives hold many memorable photos of our presidents in their even more important roles of fathers and grandfathers. To view some of those photos, please visit “From the Archives: Presidents as Fathers.”
The photo at the top shows John F. Kennedy clapping while his children, Caroline and John, Jr., dance in the Oval Office of the White House.
Below is a photo of President Dwight Eisenhower enjoying a birthday party for his grandson, David, at the White House in 1956. Note Roy Rogers attending the party.
President Barack Obama took time out of his daily schedule to sit down to lunch with two dads — Army 1st Lt. Bill Edwards and Army Capt. Joubert Paulino, “just two examples of standout dads, balancing service to their country with service at home.”
The following are excerpts of President Obama’s Father’s Day Proclamation, followed by Leon Panetta’s remarks.
Every day, ordinary Americans make extraordinary contributions to the well-being of our children and the strength of our Nation by answering one of life’s greatest callings — parenthood. Morning, noon, and night, they dedicate themselves to their sons and daughters, expressing a love that knows neither beginning nor end through small daily acts. On Father’s Day, we honor the men whose compassion and commitment have nourished our spirits and guided us toward brighter horizons.
For many of us, our fathers show us by the example they set the kind of people they want us to become. Whether biological, foster, or adoptive, they teach us through the encouragement they give, the questions they answer, the limits they set, and the strength they show in the face of difficulty and hardship. Our fathers impart lessons and values we will always carry with us. With their presence and their care, they not only fulfill a profound responsibility, but also share a blessing with their children that stands among our truest traditions.
All of us have a stake in forging stronger bonds between fathers and their children. Today, we celebrate men who have risen to the task, who raised us, and who do that most important work of parenting, day in and day out, with love, humility, and pride.
Here is the text of Panetta’s message:
As we mark Father’s Day this weekend, I’d like to convey my thanks and gratitude to the fathers and grandfathers in our military family. This is a time for all of us to recognize and show our appreciation to fathers for everything they do in bettering our military, securing our nation, helping to raise and nurture our families, and inspiring future generations of Americans to serve.
To all fathers in uniform: thank you for your loyalty and dedication to our country, and for your willingness to balance the demands of military and family life. Over the past year as Secretary of Defense, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of you deployed around the world. I’ve seen how you focus on the mission while enduring extended periods away from loved ones. Through it all, you’ve shown courage on the battlefield and tenderness to your families at home.
To fathers and husbands of those who serve: we simply could not do our jobs without your love and support. It is never easy to deal with the challenges and concerns of a deployment, just as it is always hard to take care of everything back at home.
To all of you, I join your families in saluting you and offering my most heartfelt thanks. You are true heroes in the eyes of your fellow citizens and most especially in the eyes of your children. We honor you as fathers and we will always be thankful for your leadership and your love of family, of service, and of America.
This is one military father who will be spending Father’s Day with his family. U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Douglas Jones was welcomed home recently by his daughter, Ainsley Jones, three, from a deployment at Davis-Monthan Air force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Camilla Griffin)