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Happy Father’s Day

Feliz Día del Padre! ~ Spanish; Le jour de père heureux! ~ French; Alles Gute zum Vatertag! ~ German; Siku ya furaha ya Baba ~ Sawahili; …

Feliz Día del Padre! ~ Spanish; Le jour de père heureux! ~ French; Alles Gute zum Vatertag! ~ German; Siku ya furaha ya Baba ~ Sawahili; Chim Aki Nitak ~ Choctaw.

I could go on and on in many other languages to say Happy Dad’s Day to dads the world over.

In 1908, Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Wash., by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. The first celebration was at the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910.

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972. So, it’s not a holiday that has been around for a long time, but recognizing fathers, or the paternal figures in our lives, has been a celebration we all want to celebrate today.

My own father was born in a small hamlet in Texas, called Westhoff, in 1927. He grew up speaking Spanish and his father was a tall biracial man of German and Spanish ancestry, and his mother also bi-racial of Native American and African ancestry. As a child, my father made sure that he shared with me and my siblings all things he thought were important for his children: speaking Spanish, our genealogy, how to build a house (which he learned to do at a young age), and baseball. Yes, baseball.

You see, my father played baseball for the early “Negro Leagues” before baseball was integrated by the legendary number 42, Jackie Robinson. My father’s passion for the sport never wavered. When the draft was still in effect, my father was enlisted into the Army during the Korean War. As a soldier, he learned to become a medic and that helped him become a chemist at a factory after his duty ended. As a chemist, he created fiber glass suitcases that were sold for retail, but also were used in films in Hollywood. He eventually learned to dress sets for movies. Maybe that’s why I went to live and work in Hollywood — because my father’s work showed me it was possible.

Father’s Day, like Mother’s Day, should be celebrated every day because without them, there would be no us. I lost dad, at a way too young age, and on his 54th birthday. His presence never leaves me even now, some 30 years later. His influences, like my language skills, Spanish, French, German, Swahili and Choctaw and the love of baseball made a difference, so I say to him ~ Feliz Día del Padre!

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