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Why Father's Day Was 58 Years in the Making

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Many of you probably know that Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day in 1908—and later recommended that people eschew the holiday after it become too commercial.

The first event for fathers was held the same year, though it was considerably sadder than today’s neckties-and-coffee mugs affair: A church in West Virginia honored 362 men who had died six months prior in a mining explosion. Washington State was the first to officially recognize a day for dads in 1910 when Sonora Smart Dodd, the daughter of a single dad who raised six children by himself, asked Spokane pastors for a special sermon to honor fathers. She requested that the sermon be read the first week of June, but the pastors needed more time to get them written, which is how we landed on the third Sunday in June.

By 1916, even the President of the United States got involved by helping Spokane kick off Father’s Day with a special telegram. In 1924, Calvin Coolidge was vocal about supporting the idea of states adopting an official Father’s Day—but despite it all, dads didn’t get their own federally recognized holiday until 1972, 58 years after moms got theirs.

Why did it take so long? The backlash against Mother’s Day probably didn’t help, for one. And some historians think it was the attitude of dads themselves, who seemed reluctant to embrace the sentimentality of the day—not to mention shell out money for gifts for themselves, since many mothers didn’t work outside the home in the early part of the century.

In 1957, Senator Margaret Chase Smith pointed out that recognizing the efforts of one parent but not the other was sending the message that fathers weren’t as important. “To single out just one of our two parents and omit the other is the most grievous insult imaginable,” she said. It took another nine years for Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day; it was another six years until Richard Nixon made it official in 1972.

We’re certainly making up for all that lost time now: We purchase 87 million cards every Father’s Day, and spend about $12.5 billion on gifts. We still spend about $8.7 billion more on mom, but hey—we’re getting there.

Happy Father’s Day!

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NASA, Getty Images
Watch Apollo 11 Launch
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
NASA, Getty Images

Apollo 11 launched on July 16, 1969, on its way to the moon. In the video below, Mark Gray shows slow-motion footage of the launch (a Saturn V rocket) and explains in glorious detail what's going on from a technical perspective—the launch is very complex, and lots of stuff has to happen just right in order to get a safe launch. The video is mesmerizing, the narration is informative. Prepare to geek out about rockets! (Did you know the hold-down arms actually catch on fire after the rocket lifts off?)

Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch (HD) Camera E-8 from Spacecraft Films on Vimeo.

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Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Utility Workers May Have Found One of Rome’s First Churches
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

The remains of what may have been one of Rome’s earliest Christian churches were accidentally discovered along the Tiber River during construction, The Local reports. The four-room structure, which could have been built as early as the 1st century CE, was unearthed by electrical technicians who were laying cables along the Ponte Milvio.

The newly discovered structure next to the river
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

No one is sure what to make of this “archaeological enigma shrouded in mystery,” in the words of Rome’s Archaeological Superintendency. Although there’s no definitive theory as of yet, experts have a few ideas.

The use of colorful African marble for the floors and walls has led archaeologists to believe that the building probably served a prestigious—or perhaps holy—function as the villa of a noble family or as a Christian place of worship. Its proximity to an early cemetery spawned the latter theory, since it's common for churches to have mausoleums attached to them. Several tombs were found in that cemetery, including one containing the intact skeleton of a Roman man.

Marble flooring
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

A tomb
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma1

The walls are made of brick, and the red, green, and beige marble had been imported from Sparta (Greece), Egypt, and present-day Tunisia, The Telegraph reports.

As The Local points out, it’s not all that unusual in Rome for archaeological discoveries to be made by unsuspecting people going about their day. Rome’s oldest aqueduct was found by Metro workers, and an ancient bath house and tombs were found during construction on a new church.

[h/t The Local]

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