Never Forget!

Remembering September 11th

By Barbara Heimlich

On Sunday morning while watching “Sunday Morning” I was shocked to hear that only 14 states taught students about the 9/11 Terror Attack. When asked about 9/11 they didn’t even know what it was.

This year, the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, has been especially difficult for those of us who lost a loved one on 9/11. Not only are we grappling with the Covid pandemic that has kept many of us isolated, but we were bombarded with updated information regarding 9/11.

For years, families of the victims of the September 11th attacks have pushed the federal government to reveal more information about any Saudi involvement in financing the attacks. In 2019, William P. Barr, then the attorney general under President Donald J. Trump, declared in a statement to a federal court that documents related to the attacks should stay classified to protect national security. The move stunned those of us still seeking answers.

As a candidate, President Biden pledged to “err on the side of disclosure in cases where, as here, the events in question occurred two decades or longer ago.” In an executive order, the president instructed Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to publicly release the declassified documents over the next six months.

During the September 11th attacks in 2001, 2,977 people were killed, 19 hijackers committed murder–suicide, and more than 6,000 others were injured. The immediate deaths included 265 on the four planes (including the terrorists), 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon.

More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks, including the United Kingdom (67 deaths), the Dominican Republic (47 deaths), India (41 deaths), Greece (39 deaths), South Korea (28 deaths), Canada (24 deaths), Japan (24 deaths), Colombia (18 deaths), Jamaica (16 deaths), Philippines (16 deaths), Mexico (15 deaths), Trinidad and Tobago (14 deaths), Ecuador (13 deaths), Australia (11 deaths), Germany (11 deaths), Italy (10 deaths), Bangladesh (6 deaths), Ireland (6 deaths), Pakistan (6 deaths), and Poland (6 deaths).

Of the 2,977 victims killed in the September 11th attacks, 412 were emergency workers in New York City who responded to the World Trade Center. This included:
• 343 firefighters (including a chaplain and two paramedics) of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY)
• 37 police officers of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD);
• 23 police officers of the New York City Police Department (NYPD); and
• 8 emergency medical technicians and paramedics from private emergency medical services
• 3 New York State Court Officers
• 1 patrolman from the New York Fire Patrol

The victims ranged in age from two to 85 years. Approximately 75-80% of the victims were men. The attacks remain the deadliest terrorist act in world history.

Today there are still medical repressions affecting those heroic 9/11 First Responders who face a high cancer risk. It can take years, even decades, for cancers to develop. A study published in 2019 found that 9/11 first responders have an elevated risk of certain cancers, including a roughly 25% increased risk of prostate cancer, a doubling in the risk of thyroid cancer and a 41% increase in leukemia compared to the general population.

The medical director of the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital reported in 2018 that out of the approximately 10,000 first responders and others who were at Ground Zero and have developed cancer as a result, more than 2,000 have died due to 9/11 related illnesses.

So yes, the carnage continues, not only do I want answers about that day that resulted in the murder of a family member, but there are thousands of us who are looking for details.

Connecticut lost 161 residents that day. A stark reminder in the days following 9/11 were cars in Metro North parking lots gathering dust waiting for those who would never return.

And then there is the announcement that the Guantanamo trial of suspected 9/11 mastermind would resume. The case will be restarting with a new judge after a 17-month pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Selection of a military jury was slated to begin in January of this year, but now will not begin until 2022 at the earliest.

At contention by 9/11 families is that the “trial” is being conducted by the military. The Guantánamo military commissions office announced that victims’ family members would be permitted, on a lottery basis, to attend the Guantánamo legal hearings of those accused of planning the 9/11 attacks.

Not only does the lottery system inherently result in the granting of media attention to the select few who are chosen, and whose views are not necessarily representative of all victims’ families. Many 9/11 families do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 family members and all Americans deserve.

We believe that a military tribunal is secretive and unconstitutional nature of these proceedings deprive us of the right to know the full truth about what happened on 9/11.

These prosecutions have been politically motivated from the start. No comfort or closure can come from military commissions that ignore the rule of law and stain America’s reputation at home and abroad.

The 20th Anniversary of September 11th has even changed how we honor our loved ones. Going to Ground Zero for commemoration ceremonies has always exposed us to “deniers” demonstrating outside our entrance, but this year we have been issued warnings, and new guidelines to go to Ground Zero.

So yes, this 20-year anniversary has been painful. It is personal for our family. Do I remember?

I remember what a beautiful day that Tuesday morning was, especially the blue sky with not a cloud. Then my boss called – are you watching the Today show? A plane from Boston has just hit the World Trade Center.

And my life changed forever.

First call was to my son in Ohio, as my daughter-in-law Mary was due to fly out of Boston that morning to go home to Columbus. She was safe.

Second call was from my daughter who worked at an AT&T call center to let me know she was OK (even though she was outside due to a bomb threat) and that my son-in-laws flight (as all flights) had been cancelled.

I stood in my living room, rooted in front of the TV watching the horror; I watched the second plane hit, I watched people jumping from windows to escape the fires,

I watched the towers fall, I watched people running for their lives, I watched first responders rush into the buildings. When I saw FDNY members rushing in I called to find out where my nephew, a NY fireman was – he ran in, and was and is safe.

Third call: my daughter calling me to tell me that Richie was missing. That he had an 8 a.m. meeting at Cantor Fitzgerald and his wife had not heard from him.

By 10 p.m. that night I was combing the lists of survivors that had been taken to hospitals, looking for Richie’s name. I was searching for any information that might give us information on his whereabouts.

That was day 1.

The following days (weeks) are a blurry of random memories.
• Fighter jets streaming over Long Beach
• Being able to see the smoke from the Towers on Long Beach
• Family members combing the streets with photos of Richie hoping against hope that someone had seen him.
• Volunteering at Teamsters Local 1150 on Garfield Avenue to help them collect and sort donations.
• Sending those teamster drivers headed for Ground Zero with flyers on Richie.
• Waves of anxiety attacks, which eventually lead to me having to seek therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. (FYI which manifests every anniversary of 9/11)
• A funeral that had hundreds of mourners, almost unbearable pain.

On September 11th Bill and Maureen Bosco lost a son.
Bill Bosco (my son-in-law) and his siblings lost a brother.
Tracie lost a husband.
Abby and Richie lost their father.

All of us: aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, friends, grandparents lost a precious soul that we loved to the terrorists.

Is there anything “good” that came from this horrible tragedy?

Community: through community volunteering I met and developed a friendship with Sean Haubert. Sean and his father, a now retired fireman, were among the first responders who went to Ground Zero to look for survivors.

Voices Center for Resilience, formerly known as Voices of September 11th, that was formed to provide long-term support for the 9/11 community, while sharing their nearly two decades of expertise to assist those impacted by other tragedies in the United States and abroad. They were there for Sandy Hook; they were there for  Stoneman Douglas High School; and they have been there for us providing: resources, programs, education, and mental health care to communities impacted by subsequent tragedies in the United States and abroad.
VOICES is a non-profit organization that assists communities in preparing for and recovering from traumatic events and provides long-term support and resources that promote mental health care and wellness for victims’ families, responders and survivors. Voices was founded by Mary and Frank Fetchet, who lost their son Brad on September 11th.

And lastly, this week two more victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center have been identified by the New York City medical examiner’s office, who have vowed to identify everyone lost that day. Just days before the nation marks the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, Dorothy Morgan of Hempstead, N.Y., becomes the 1,646th victim to be identified through ongoing DNA analysis of unidentified remains recovered from the World Trade Center site, where 2,753 lives were lost. The second person — and the 1,647th victim — is a man whose name is being withheld at his family’s request.

So No – I will Never Forget! 

Why Aren’t We Working on Labor Day?

The Story of Labor Day

Source:, Wikipedia

Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day?

Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters.

In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.

People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.

As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.

The labor movement in the United States grew out of the need to protect the common interest of workers. For those in the industrial sector, organized labor unions fought for better wages, reasonable hours and safer working conditions. The labor movement led efforts to stop child labor, give health benefits and provide aid to workers who were injured or retired.

The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a watershed moment in American labor history brought workers’ rights squarely into the public’s view. On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives.

Origins of The Labor Movement: Artisan Trades

The origins of the labor movement lay in the formative years of the American nation, when a free wage-labor market emerged in the artisan trades late in the colonial period. The earliest recorded strike occurred in 1768 when New York journeymen tailors protested a wage reduction. The formation of the Federal Society of Journeymen Cordwainers (shoemakers) in Philadelphia in 1794 marks the beginning of sustained trade union organization among American workers.

From that time on, local craft unions proliferated in the cities, publishing lists of “prices” for their work, defending their trades against diluted and cheap labor and, increasingly, demanding a shorter workday in the face of the Industrial Revolution. Thus a job-conscious orientation was quick to emerge, and in its wake there followed the key structural elements characterizing American trade unionism.

With the formation in 1827 of the Mechanics’ Union of Trade Associations in Philadelphia, central labor bodies began uniting craft unions within a single city, and then, with the creation of the International Typographical Union in 1852, national unions began bringing together local unions of the same trade from across the United States and Canada (hence the frequent union designation “international”).

Although the factory system was springing up during these years, industrial workers played little part in the early trade union development. In the 19th century, trade unionism was mainly a movement of skilled workers.

Early Labor Unions

The early labor movement was inspired by more than the immediate job interest of its craft members. It harbored a conception of the just society, deriving from the Ricardian labor theory of value and from the republican ideals of the American Revolution, which fostered social equality, celebrated honest labor, and relied on an independent, virtuous citizenship.

Note: Ricardian is considered to be a form of socialism based on the arguments made by Ricardo that the equilibrium value of commodities approximated producer prices when those commodities were in elastic supply, that these producer prices corresponded to the embodied labor and that profit, interest and rent were deductions from this exchange-value. This is deduced from the axiom of Ricardo and Adam Smith that labor is the source of all value.

The transforming economic changes of industrial capitalism ran counter to labor’s vision, to raise up “two distinct classes, the rich and the poor.” Beginning with the workingmen’s parties of the 1830s, the advocates of equal rights mounted a series of reform efforts that spanned the nineteenth century. Most notable were the National Labor Union, launched in 1866, and the Knights of Labor, which reached its zenith in the mid-1880s.

On their face, these reform movements might have seemed at odds with trade unionism, aiming at the cooperative commonwealth rather than a higher wage, appealing broadly to all “producers” rather than strictly to wageworkers, and eschewing the trade union reliance on the strike and boycott. But contemporaries saw no contradiction: trade unionism tended to the workers’ immediate needs, labor reform to their higher hopes. The two were held to be strands of a single movement, rooted in a common working-class constituency and to some degree sharing a common leadership. But equally important, they were strands that had to be kept operationally separate and functionally distinct.

American Federation of Labor

During the 1880s, that division fatally eroded. Despite its labor reform rhetoric, the Knights of Labor attracted large numbers of workers hoping to improve their immediate conditions. As the Knights carried on strikes and organized along industrial lines, the threatened national trade unions demanded that the group confine itself to its professed labor reform purposes. When it refused, they joined in December 1886 to form the American Federation of Labor (AFL).

The AFL marked a break with the past, for it denied to labor reform any further role in the struggles of American workers. In part, the assertion of trade union supremacy stemmed from an undeniable reality. As industrialism matured, labor reform lost its meaning–hence the confusion and ultimate failure of the Knights of Labor.

The AFL asserted as a formal policy that it represented all workers, irrespective of skill, race, religion, nationality or gender. But the national unions that had created the AFL in fact comprised only the skilled trades. Almost at once, therefore, the trade union movement encountered a dilemma: How to square ideological aspirations against contrary institutional realities?

Discrimination in The Labor Movement

As sweeping technological change began to undermine the craft system of production, some national unions did move toward an industrial structure, most notably in coal mining and the garment trades.

But most craft unions either refused or, as in iron and steel and in meat-packing, failed to organize the less skilled. Skill lines tended to conform to racial, ethnic and gender divisions, the trade union movement took on a racist and sexist coloration as well.

For a short period, the AFL resisted that tendency. But in 1895, unable to launch an interracial machinists’ union of its own, the Federation reversed an earlier principled decision and chartered the whites-only International Association of Machinists.

The color bar thereafter spread throughout the trade union movement. In 1902, blacks made up scarcely 3 percent of total membership, most of them segregated in Jim Crow locals. In the case of women and eastern European immigrants, a similar devolution occurred–welcomed as equals in theory, excluded or segregated in practice. (Only the fate of Asian workers was unproblematic; their rights had never been asserted by the AFL in the first place.)

Politics Enter

The founding doctrine of pure-and-simple unionism meant an arm’s-length relationship to the state and the least possible entanglement in partisan politics. A total separation had, of course, never been seriously contemplated; some objectives, such as immigration restriction, could be achieved only through state action, and the predecessor to the AFL, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (1881), had in fact been created to serve as labor’s lobbying arm in Washington.

Partly because of the lure of progressive labor legislation, even more in response to increasingly damaging court attacks on the trade unions, political activity quickened after 1900. With the enunciation of Labor’s Bill of Grievances (1906), the AFL laid down a challenge to the major parties. Henceforth it would campaign for its friends and seek the defeat of its enemies.

This nonpartisan entry into electoral politics undercut the left-wing advocates of an independent working-class politics. That question had been repeatedly debated within the AFL, first in 1890 over Socialist Labor party representation, then in 1893-1894 over an alliance with the Populist Party and after 1901 over affiliation with the Socialist party of America.

As labor’s leverage with the major parties began to pay off, critics on the left acknowledged the labor movement could not afford to waste its political capital on socialist parties or independent politics. When that nonpartisan strategy failed, as it did in the reaction following World War I, an independent political strategy took hold, first through the robust campaigning of the Conference for Progressive Political Action in 1922, and in 1924 through labor’s endorsement of Robert La Follette on the Progressive ticket.

By then, however, the Republican administration was moderating its hard line, evident especially in Herbert Hoover’s efforts to resolve the simmering crises in mining and on the railroads. In response, the trade unions abandoned the Progressive party, retreated to nonpartisanship, and, as their power waned, lapsed into inactivity.

The Labor Movement and The Great Depression

It took the Great Depression to knock the labor movement off dead center. The discontent of industrial workers, combined with New Deal collective bargaining legislation, at last brought the great mass production industries within striking distance.

When the craft unions stymied the ALF’s organizing efforts, John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers and his followers broke away in 1935 and formed the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO), which crucially aided the emerging unions in auto, rubber, steel and other basic industries. In 1938 the CIO was formally established as the Congress of Industrial Organizations. By the end of World War II, more than 12 million workers belonged to unions and collective bargaining had taken hold throughout the industrial economy.

In politics, its enhanced power led the union movement not to a new departure but to a variant on the policy of nonpartisanship. As far back as the Progressive Era, organized labor had been drifting toward the Democratic party, partly because of the latter’s greater programmatic appeal, perhaps even more because of its ethno-cultural basis of support within an increasingly “new” immigrant working class. With the coming of Roosevelt’s New Deal, this incipient alliance solidified, and from 1936 onward the Democratic Party could count on–and came to rely on–the campaigning resources of the labor movement.

Collective Bargaining

The formation of the AFL-CIO in 1955 visibly testified to the powerful continuities persisting through the age of industrial unionism. Above all, the central purpose remained what it had always been–to advance the economic and job interests of the union membership. Collective bargaining performed impressively after World War II, more than tripling weekly earnings in manufacturing between 1945 and 1970, gaining for union workers an unprecedented measure of security against old age, illness and unemployment, and, through contractual protections, greatly strengthening their right to fair treatment at the workplace.

But if the benefits were greater and if they went to more people, the basic job-conscious thrust remained intact. Organized labor was still a sectional movement, covering at most only a third of America’s wage earners and inaccessible to those cut off in the low-wage secondary labor market.

Women and Minorities in the Labor Movement

Nothing better captures the uneasy amalgam of old and new in the postwar labor movement than the treatment of minorities and women who flocked in, initially from the mass production industries, but after 1960 from the public and service sectors as well.

Labor’s historic commitment to racial and gender equality was strengthened, but not to the point of challenging the status quo within the labor movement itself. The leadership structure remained largely closed to minorities–as did the skilled jobs that were historically the preserve of white male workers–notoriously so in the construction trades but in the industrial unions as well.

Yet the AFL-CIO played a crucial role in the battle for civil rights legislation in 1964-1965. That this legislation might be directed against discriminatory trade union practices was anticipated (and quietly welcomed) by the more progressive labor leaders. But more significant was the meaning they found in championing this kind of reform: the chance to act on the broad ideals of the labor movement. And, so motivated, they deployed labor’s power with great effect in the achievement of John F. Kennedy’s and Lyndon B. Johnson’s domestic programs during the 1960s.

Decline in Unions

This was ultimately economic, not political power, and as organized labor’s grip on the industrial sector began to weaken, so did its political capability.

From the early 1970s onward, new competitive forces swept through the heavily unionized industries, set off by deregulation in communications and transportation, by industrial restructuring and by an unprecedented onslaught of foreign goods.

As oligopolistic (markets dominated by a small number of suppliers) and regulated market structures broke down, nonunion competition spurted, concession bargaining became widespread and plant closings decimated union memberships.

The once-celebrated National Labor Relations Act increasingly hamstrung the labor movement; an all-out reform campaign to get the law amended failed in 1978. And with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, there came to power an anti-union administration the likes of which had not been seen since the Harding era.

Between 1975 and 1985, union membership fell by 5 million. In manufacturing, the unionized portion of the labor force dropped below 25 percent, while mining and construction, once labor’s flagship industries, were decimated. Only in the public sector did the unions hold their own. By the end of the 1980s, less than 17 percent of American workers were organized, half the proportion of the early 1950s.


The Putney Area

By Bessie Burton
Edited by Andréa Byrne

In 1639, the original settlers of Stratford lived and farmed in the area known today as Stratford Center. Two of those settlers, Richard Boothe and his wife Elizabeth, had a grandson, Zechariah, who was the first in the family to move up to north Stratford on the Housatonic river where the farming was much more productive.

That region was very hilly and the local Native People, the Paugassett tribe, called it Put Nee, which means ‘high hill’ and is quite an apt name. The road we call Main Street Putney was previously referred to as the old Paugassett Road and was the path used to go north from Stratford to Shelton.  Those who settled in this area were few and all were farmers who had a great deal of trouble getting into town as the muddy roads made it very treacherous. In fact, the long stretch that leads to Cutspring Road and is now called Chapel Street was then known as Skidmore Hill because for most of the year it was almost impossible to get their oxen and cart up that path.

Over the ensuing years others ventured up the hill, although it was not until the 1960’s that the area heading up James Farm Road to Shelton got more populated!  All those farmsteads began to disappear.

The lower part of Chapel Street, where it meets Main Street, was named after the Putney Chapel, which was built at that intersection in 1844 by two neighbors, the Welles and the Boothe’s. The community needed a church and the Chapel often hosted itinerant pastors to lead services, but it was primarily used as a Grange and was a popular site for all. Local residents could share information and problems, discuss moral and ethical questions of the day, and the women also shared social times there with sewing and quilting bees.

By the 1900’s more traffic came to the area. Travelers started using either side of the Putney Chapel to access Main Street Putney, which left the little structure stranded in the middle of the road. After a serious accident there, in 1968 the town opted to move the Chapel to the north end of Boothe Park, where it remains today.

Fortunately, two Putney families who were active in the old Chapel Association, the Lays and the Richardsons, took on the job of restoration and expansion of the building so it could be opened and used by the public again.

Today the Chapel continues to be used for meetings by the Friends of Boothe Park Trustees, the Putney Chapel Association, an annual non-denominational Christmas Eve service for residents of the Putney community, and can be rented for baptisms, weddings, and funerals.

For more information and photos look at their website: or email:




You Will Like It!!!

Shakespeare Academy Presents

Outdoor Production of As You Like It
Wednesday, August 25th at 6 p.m.

William Shakespeare’s comedy, As You Like It, will be produced by artists in residence under the Shakespeare Academy at Stratford in a reimagined outdoor workshop edition titled As We Like It!!!

As the eighth installment of the summer Riverside Phoenix Summer Residency program, the Shakespeare Academy welcomes back 2014 alumna, Olivia Gregorich, to helm this innovative workshop production along with an ensemble of nine theatre artists.

As We Like It will be performed on Wednesday, August 25 at 6pm. The show will run about 70 minutes without an intermission. The production will be located in the American Shakespeare State Park, and audience members are required to bring their own portable seating.

The project features three moments in which the audience will be asked to relocate. The audience is encouraged to leave large bags at home and come prepared to walk a short distance.

Special arrangements regarding mobility can be made by emailing Tickets are free, but donations are welcome. Tickets can be reserved at:

As We Like It is supported by the Shakespeare Academy at Stratford and The Mighty Quinn Foundation Inc.

Production Information:


Maren Dahl (Minneapolis, MN)

Warren Duncan (Chicago, IL)

Amanda Hays (Chicago, IL)

Olivia Gregorich (Chicago, IL)

Matt Johnson (Elmhurst, IL)

Sophie Hernando Kofman (Chicago, IL)

Annie Saenger (New York City, NY)

Jess Smoot (Chicago, IL)

Margaret Valerio (Avon, CT)

Erin Williams (Stratford, CT)

Creative Team:

Mia DeLasho

Olivia Gregorich

Jess Smoot

Parking: Parking is free of charge and there are several parking lots to choose from at the American Shakespeare Festival State Park.

Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford is a six-week residential summer theater program for college-age actors that uniquely combines rigorous training, ensemble collaboration, and the opportunity to rehearse and perform two Shakespeare plays in repertory. Each year we select a fourteen-member ensemble from around the U.S and abroad, to train and perform together on the property that once housed the legendary American Shakespeare Festival Theater. For more information on the Shakespeare Academy @ Stratford, the Riverside Phoenix Summer Residencies, and more, visit or follow @shakespeareacademystratford on Instagram and Facebook.

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Longbrook Park — A Paradise Park

By Andrea Byrne
With thanks to Greg Carleton

Longbrook Park is situated in a charming neighborhood near Paradise Green. A quick look at a map of town will lead you to a delightful, worthwhile experience.

Longbrook Park has been many things to many people over the course of its long life.  Thanks to a WPA project in the 1930’s, what began as a swamp was gradually transformed into the 34-acre park that has fostered treasured memories for generations of Stratford residents, and it’s right in the middle of town. The stone walls and bridges were constructed out of rock quarried from Stratford’s Roosevelt Forest.

Frequented in every season for its natural beauty, the park includes gentle walking paths as well as upper and lower Brewster Pond.  In winters past families built bonfires near the edge of the frozen pond to warm themselves after skating.  The pond is a stopover for migrating birds, and has been a spot for would-be sailors to pilot their remote-controlled boats.  The Boy Scouts also hold their annual spring fishing derby there.

The park hosts summer youth camps and has a fun ‘splash pad’ near the Victoria Soto Playground. It’s the site of Penders Field, which is home to Stratford High School sports teams, and is also used by Little League, PAL baseball, Pop Warner football, cheerleading squads and more. Twice a year volunteers are invited to spend a Saturday morning cleaning, planting, landscaping, and tending to the ponds.

The Longbrook Park Commission, which oversees the use, preservation, development and maintenance of the park, is comprised of seven members, three of which are on the Town Council and all serve three-year terms. On May 5, 2010, the CT Historic Preservation Council placed Longbrook Park on the State Register of Historic Places.

The Old Stratford Neighborhood Association (OSNA)

By:Andrea Byrne

The Old Stratford Neighborhood Association (OSNA) has been active in the Historic District since the mid-1970’s. It is a non-political, social organization open to all homeowners and renters, whether living in older homes or more contemporary dwellings.

Our primary purpose is to create a sense of community and provide information on issues of concern through email, snail-mail, and on Facebook.

On the social side, we have at least two events: a summer outdoor get-together, and a holiday party following caroling in the neighborhood. All our social events are family-friendly, providing kids an opportunity to meet new friends and playmates. Join us for our late August picnic! Email the address below for details.

We have sponsored debates prior to important elections, and have been a strong vocal participant on such topics as the future of the Shakespeare Theatre site, the Center School development, increasing traffic concerns, and much more.

This is a neighborhood where many have lived for decades, some for generations. We invite any and all who share a love of this foundational part of our town to join OSNA and help preserve its special quality for the generations to come.

Board Members: Elizabeth Saint, Megan Merwin, Andy Byrne and Tom Yemm.
For information and membership, please email

Editor’s Note: The Town of Stratford is Divided into 10 voting districts.
Each District has its own unique identify and in many cases, their own District social media presence. The Stratford Crier is interested in hearing from you. Please submit information on your District outreach to your residents. Please send your information to:

Making Stratford A True Town for All Seasons

Join Stratford Forward and Be Part of the Solution

About Stratford Forward

We are a focused on creating a blueprint for success by bringing people together to learn from each other in order to improve our community.

We are committed residents of Stratford who are non-partisan and believe in building a foundation of trust.  We do this by listening to each other, creating consensus, holding forums, securing expert consultations and driving change one issue at a time.

Stratford needs a vision and a master plan – we have a great opportunity for the town to redesign itself and create a thriving future.

Our town must work with world class professionals to use this great opportunity to grow, thrive, and create financial stability.  These are our “Big 4” opportunities.

Big 4 Opportunities

Rebuilding the Shakespeare Theatre

Stratford Forward is a proud Partner of the American Globe Center (AGC) – a new Stratford non-profit dedicated to re-building on the grounds of the “Shakespeare Property”.  Here’s more from the AGC!

Our Goal

The former grounds of the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre will soon house the world’s only Historically Accurate Re-creation of Shakespeare’s 1614 Globe Theatre, as part of the American Globe Center, which also includes the Stratford Playhouse – our Modern Performing Arts & Education Center and Multi-function/Event Space.

Cultural Destination

Stratford will become home to a true destination for the region, the nation, and the world – presenting engaging, inclusive, entertainment-guaranteed classical theatre, alongside the best of today’s hits, to thousands of visitors from all around the world.

Who We Are

Established theatre and business professionals with a proven track record of funding and building commercially successful Shakespeare re-creation theatres, providing excellence in entertainment, equity, education, and economic development.

Center School Redevelopment

Stratford needs a Nationally recognized Urban Planning organization (like the Yale Urban Design Workshop) to help create a vision and cohesive plan for our town, leveraging the Shakespeare site, Center School Site, Complete Streets and more. The time is now.

Stratford is vetting developers on the Center School site, and must consider the best interest of residents and our historic town. We care about what goes into the Center School site, and do not support another oversized apartment complex or self storage facility.

Stratford deserves thoughtful, mixed use development that includes retail, open space, and opportunities for our community to thrive. Let’s make Stratford the VIBRANT destination that we all know it can be!

Here’s one vision of what Stratford Forward would propose for the space:

A Mission for Stratford

Our Goal

To Create a Sustainable and Resilient Community – built to support the development of a healthy, happy community of people by respecting and cultivating each other and the environment in which we live. We believe we can…

Make Stratford the happiest place to live.

Make employers want to hire in Stratford.

Create an environment that encourages businesses.

Make Stratford the most affordable place to live and work in Connecticut

Support families.

Help our teachers be great.

Support learning environments through incentives and innovation.

Our Focus

Energy Utilization – Driving for local development control and sufficiency.

Transportation – Making it easier and safer to bicycle. Making transportation from the train to destination seamless. Providing public transportation to the beach, train, shopping, etc. via a transit district trolley.

Educational Innovation – Liberating our teachers to teach and explore new models for student engagement and family support.

Business Development – Making products for local and CT consumption. Promote small businesses, wellness centers, garden centers/boutique farming and the arts.

And our Favorite: The Stratford Crier

The Stratford Crier is an independent, local news outlet in Stratford, designed to educate and inform the people of Stratford.  Stratford Forward Board Member, Barbara Heimlich, proudly guides the content and quality of the Crier, and she wants your help to write, edit, and cover town events. Calling All Journalists!

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A Celebration: More than Fireworks and BBQ

Fourth of July – Independence Day History


The Fourth of July—also known as Independence Day or July 4th—has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution.

On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 to today, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues. 

A History of Independence Day

When the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical.  By the middle of the following year more colonists had come to favor independence, thanks to growing hostility against Britain and the spread of revolutionary sentiments.

7 Events That Led to the American Revolution

The American colonists’ breakup with the British Empire in 1776 wasn’t a sudden, impetuous act.  The banding together of the 13 colonies to fight and win a war of independence against the British Crown was the culmination of a series of events, which had begun more than a decade earlier. Escalations began shortly after the end of the French and Indian War—known elsewhere as the Seven Years War in 1763. Here are a few of the pivotal moments that led to the American Revolution.

  1. The Stamp Act (March 1765)

To recoup some of the massive debt left over from the war with France, the British Parliament passed laws such as the Stamp Act, which for the first time taxed a wide range of transactions in the colonies.

“Up until then, each colony had its own government which decided which taxes they would have, and collected them,” explains Willard Sterne Randall, a professor emeritus of history at Champlain College and author of numerous works on early American history, including Unshackling America: How the War of 1812 Truly Ended the American Revolution. “They felt that they’d spent a lot of blood and treasure to protect the colonists from the Indians, and so they should pay their share.”

The colonists didn’t see it that way. They resented not only having to buy goods from the British but pay tax on them as well. “The tax never got collected, because there were riots all over the pace,” Randall says. Ultimately, Benjamin Franklin convinced the British to rescind it, but that only made things worse. “That made the Americans think they could push back against anything the British wanted,” Randall says.

  1. The Townshend Acts (June-July 1767)

The British Parliament again tried to assert its authority by passing legislation to tax goods that the Americans imported from Great Britain. The Crown established a board of customs commissioners to stop smuggling and corruption among local officials in the colonies, who were often in on the illicit trade.

Americans struck back by organizing a boycott of the British goods that were subject to taxation, and began harassing the British customs commissioners. In an effort to quell the resistance, the British sent troops to occupy Boston, which only deepened the ill feeling.

  1. The Boston Massacre (March 1770)

Simmering tensions between the British occupiers and Boston residents boiled over one late afternoon, when a disagreement between an apprentice wigmaker and a British soldier led to a crowd of 200 colonists surrounding seven British troops. When the Americans began taunting the British and throwing things at them, the soldiers apparently lost their cool and began firing into the crowd.

As the smoke cleared, three men—including an African American sailor named Crispus Attucks—were dead, and two others were mortally wounded. The massacre became a useful propaganda tool for the colonists, especially after Paul Revere distributed an engraving that misleadingly depicted the British as the aggressors.

  1. The Boston Tea Party (December 1773)

The British eventually withdrew their forces from Boston and repealed much of the onerous Townshend legislation. But they left in place the tax on tea, and in 1773 enacted a new law, the Tea Act, to prop up the financially struggling British East India Company. The act gave the company extended favorable treatment under tax regulations, so that it could sell tea at a price that undercut the American merchants who imported from Dutch traders.

That didn’t sit well with Americans. “They didn’t want the British telling them that they had to buy their tea, but it wasn’t just about that,” Randall explains. “The Americans wanted to be able to trade with any country they wanted.”

The Sons of Liberty, a radical group, decided to confront the British head-on. Thinly disguised as Mohawks, they boarded three ships in Boston harbor and destroyed more than 92,000 pounds of British tea by dumping it into the harbor. To make the point that they were rebels rather than vandals, they avoided harming any of the crew or damaging the ships themselves, and the next day even replaced a padlock that had been broken.

Nevertheless, the act of defiance really ticked off the British government.  “Many of the East India Company’s shareholders were members of Parliament. They each had paid 1,000 pounds sterling—that would probably be about a million dollars now—for a share of the company, to get a piece of the action from all this tea that they were going to force down the colonists’ throats. So when these bottom-of-the-rung people in Boston destroyed their tea, that was a serious thing to them.”  Willard Sterne Randall

  1. The Coercive Acts (March-June 1774)

The first Continental Congress, held in Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia, met to define American rights and organize a plan of resistance to the Coercive Acts imposed by the British Parliament as punishment for the Boston Tea Party.

In response to the Boston Tea Party, the British government decided that it had to tame the rebellious colonists in Massachusetts. In the spring of 1774, Parliament passed a series of laws, the Coercive Acts, which closed Boston Harbor until restitution was paid for the destroyed tea, replaced the colony’s elected council with one appointed by the British, gave sweeping powers to the British military governor General Thomas Gage, and forbade town meetings without approval.

Yet another provision protected British colonial officials who were charged with capital offenses from being tried in Massachusetts, instead requiring that they be sent to another colony or back to Great Britain for trial.

But perhaps the most provocative provision was the Quartering Act, which allowed British military officials to demand accommodations for their troops in unoccupied houses and buildings in towns, rather than having to stay out in the countryside. While it didn’t force the colonists to board troops in their own homes, they had to pay for the expense of housing and feeding the soldiers. The quartering of troops eventually became one of the grievances cited in the Declaration of Independence.

  1. Lexington and Concord (April 1775)

The Battle of Lexington broke out on April 19, 1775.  British General Thomas Gage led a force of British soldiers from Boston to Lexington, where he planned to capture colonial radical leaders Sam Adams and John Hancock, and then head to Concord and seize their gunpowder. But American spies got wind of the plan, and with the help of riders such as Paul Revere, word spread to be ready for the British.

On the Lexington Common, the British force was confronted by 77 American militiamen, and they began shooting at each other. Seven Americans died, but other militiamen managed to stop the British at Concord, and continued to harass them on their retreat back to Boston.

The British lost 73 dead, with another 174 wounded and 26 missing in action. The bloody encounter proved to the British that the colonists were fearsome foes who had to be taken seriously. It was the start of America’s war of independence.

  1. British attacks on coastal towns (October 1775-January 1776)

Though the Revolutionary War’s hostilities started with Lexington and Concord, it was unclear whether the southern colonies, whose interests didn’t necessarily align with the northern colonies, would be all in for a war of independence.

“The southerners were totally dependent upon the English to buy their crops, and they didn’t trust the Yankees, and in New England, the Puritans thought the southerners were lazy.” Willard Sterne Randall

But that was before the brutal British naval bombardments and burning of the coastal towns of Falmouth, Massachusetts and Norfolk, Virginia helped to unify the colonies. In Falmouth, where townspeople had to grab their possessions and flee for their lives, northerners had to face up to “the fear that the British would do whatever they wanted to them,” Randall says.

The burning of Falmouth shocked General George Washington, who denounced it as “exceeding in barbarity & cruelty every hostile act practiced among civilized nations.”

Similarly, in Norfolk, the horror of the town’s wooden buildings going up in flames after a seven-hour naval bombardment shocked the southerners, who also knew that the British were offering African Americans their freedom if they took up arms on the loyalist side. “Norfolk stirred up fears of a slave insurrection in the South,” Randall says.

Leaders of the rebellion seized the burnings of the two ports to make the argument that the colonists needed to band together for survival against a ruthless enemy and embrace the need for independence—a spirit that ultimately would lead to their victory.

We Petition for Freedom

On June 7th, when the Continental Congress met at the Pennsylvania State House (later called Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, the Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence.

Amid heated debate, Congress postponed the vote on Lee’s resolution, but appointed a five-man committee:

  • Thomas Jefferson of Virginia,
  • John Adams of Massachusetts,
  • Roger Sherman of Connecticut,
  • Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania
  • and Robert R. Livingston of New York.

They were tasked to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain.

On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee’s resolution for independence in a near-unanimous vote (the New York delegation abstained, but later voted affirmatively). On that day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”

On July 4th, the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, which had been written largely by Jefferson. Though the vote for actual independence took place on July 2nd, from then on the 4th became the day that was celebrated as the birth of American independence.

Early Fourth of July Celebrations

In the pre-Revolutionary years, colonists had held annual celebrations of the king’s birthday, which traditionally included the ringing of bells, bonfires, processions and speechmaking. By contrast, during the summer of 1776 some colonists celebrated the birth of independence by holding mock funerals for King George III as a way of symbolizing the end of the monarchy’s hold on America and the triumph of liberty.

Festivities including concerts, bonfires, parades and the firing of cannons and muskets usually accompanied the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence, beginning immediately after its adoption. Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of independence on July 4, 1777, while Congress was still occupied with the ongoing war.

George Washington issued double rations of rum to all his soldiers to mark the anniversary of independence in 1778, and in 1781, several months before the key American victory at the Battle of Yorktown, Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday.

After the Revolutionary War, Americans continued to commemorate Independence Day every year in celebrations that allowed the new nation’s emerging political leaders to address citizens and create a feeling of unity. By the last decade of the 18th century, the two major political parties—the Federalist Party and Democratic-Republicans—that had arisen began holding separate Fourth of July celebrations in many large cities.

Fourth of July Fireworks

The first fireworks were used as early as 200 BC. The tradition of setting off fireworks on the 4 of July began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, during the first organized celebration of Independence Day.

Ship’s cannon fired a 13-gun salute in honor of the 13 colonies. The Pennsylvania Evening Post reported: “at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks (which began and concluded with thirteen rockets) on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated.” That same night, the Sons of Liberty set off fireworks over Boston Common.

Fourth of July Becomes a Federal Holiday

The tradition of patriotic celebration became even more widespread after the War of 1812, in which the United States again faced Great Britain. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday; in 1941, the provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees.  Over the years, the political importance of the holiday would decline, but Independence Day remained an important national holiday and a symbol of patriotism.

Falling in mid-summer, the Fourth of July has since the late 19th century become a major focus of leisure activities and a common occasion for family get-togethers, often involving fireworks and outdoor barbecues. The most common symbol of the holiday is the American flag, and a common musical accompaniment is “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States.

Fourth Factoids

Did you know? John Adams believed that July 2nd was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence, and would reportedly turn down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest.

John Adams may have been the first to suggest fireworks.  In a letter to his wife and political advisor, Abigail, he suggested that “illuminations” be part of the future Independence Day celebrations, the first of which was held in 1777.

News of the Declaration of Independence caused colonists to riot against King George III. On the night of July 4th, citizens of Philadelphia ripped King George III’s coat of arms from the State House door and threw it into a bonfire.

One World Trade Center in New York City, its most outstanding feature (its height), was designed to pay tribute to the year that America received its independence from Great Britain. The tower is exactly 1,776 feet tall to represent the year 1776.

It’s hard to get through an entire 4th of July party or parade without hearing the “Star Spangled Banner” at least once or twice. As Better Homes & Gardens points out, despite being written during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key’s famous song didn’t become the National Anthem until 1931, 88 years after Key had already passed away.

The 4th of July might seem like the holiday that the White House would celebrate before any other, but it didn’t actually host an official Independence Day party until 1801, as Better Homes & Gardens points out. President Thomas Jefferson was in office at the time.

America was free as of that date. Enslaved Black people in America were not granted their freedom until June 19, 1865, following the Civil War. Today, this date is celebrated as Juneteenth.

The oldest 4th of July parade in the nation is celebrated in the town of Bristol, Rhode Island each year. It’s been happening since 1785.

A little-known tradition is that of eating salmon on Independence Day — well, if you are from New England, anyway.  “The tradition of eating salmon on the Fourth of July essentially began in New England as a coincidence. During the middle of the summer, salmon was abundant in rivers throughout the region, so it was a common sight on tables at the time,” author Jay Serafino writes on “The dish eventually got lumped into the Fourth and has stayed that way ever since, even with the decline of Atlantic salmon.”

On July 3, 1781, Massachusetts legislature called for an official state celebration to recognize “the anniversary of the independence of the United States of America,” making it the first state to recognize the 4th of July as an official holiday.

There has only been one president ever to be born on the American holiday: Calvin Coolidge. Coolidge was born July 4, 1872 in Plymouth Notch, Vermont.

Three former presidents died on July 4th.  On July 4, 1826, 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was finalized, former U.S. presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams reportedly died just hours apart. Exactly five years later, James Monroe reportedly became the third U.S. president to die on the 4th of July.

During the first Independence Day following the end of the Civil War, a celebratory firecracker reportedly started the Great Fire of 1866 in Portland, Maine. As well as destroying 1,800 buildings (including the new City Hall, the Customs House, the Post Office, several churches, and all the city’s banks), the fire left 10,000 people homeless.

Nathan’s annual July 4th hot dog eating contest reportedly began on July 4, 1916.

According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, approximately 150 million hot dogs are consumed by Americans on the 4th of July each year. If lined up, that amount of hot dogs could stretch from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles more than five times.

Find Your Spiritual Pathway to Happiness!

Joseph Bologna and Donna Martire – Two Stratford residents team up for the second time in 50 years for a performance of a different kind!

by Donna Martire Miller

Joseph Bologna and Donna Martire-Miller, Stratford residents team up to write “The View from Within: Spiritual Pathways to Happiness”.

These two former Rock and Rollers have teamed up to publish a photographic journey into happiness and spirituality. Photos from around the world are combined with blessings for the reader, quotes, and insights from over 20 different spiritual practices. This book is the first in a coming Unshakeable Happiness Trilogy, a body of work published by for Happily Ever Actions exploring the science of happiness. Happily, Ever Actions is an organization that teaches universal skills for health and happiness. They offer workshops, classes, retreats, public speaking, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.

“In these uncertain times, the search for happiness and meaning in life is more critical than ever. There is both an art and a science to happiness, and many ways to achieve it. The View from Within invites readers on a journey to happiness by tapping into the tenets of spirituality from around the world. By acquainting ourselves with the mysteries of the sacred, combined with a deep understanding of who we are in the world in which we live, we can begin to live a purposeful life and to discover our own pathways to greater life satisfaction and happiness.” According to Martire Miller and Bologna.
The View from Within is filled with meta blessings that unify many of the wisdom traditions. The contemplative spirituality shared in The View from Within describes virtues such as compassion, love, mercy, and kindness. These are pathways built within the faith traditions that help us reach beyond ourselves towards unshakable happiness.
The View from Within is endorsed by thought leaders in the Happiness Field and sets the stage for growth, wisdom, and the pursuit of happiness.

“A spiritual life possesses both breadth and depth, like an ocean. And like the ocean that connects nations and continents, a spiritual life connects us to all beings, near and far. In The View from Within, Donna Martire Miller and Joseph Bologna gracefully and beautifully bring together different spiritual traditions. Their work connects, inspires, heals.” Dr Tal Ben-Shahar

Martire Miller holds multiple degrees and certifications and is an educator in the fields of Happiness and Positive Psychology. Bologna is an award-winning internationally traveled photographer. They met as young adults as performers in rock, rhythm, and blues. Life took them to separate corners of the earth but did not keep them apart forever. They reconnected decades later to begin a new journey together. They reside in Stratford, and have a love story for the ages.

In 1969, Joseph Bologna was graduating from Stratford High School, and Donna Martire was entering Stratford High as a freshman. They were known to each other as both were in the performing arts and lead vocalists in different Rock, Rhythm, and Blues bands. Joseph’s career took him on tour to the east coast, and Donna’s took her on tour to the west coast. They were able to keep in touch because of mutual friends in the music business, and that grew up in Stratford as they did.

Joseph eventually left the music business and became a photographer. He traveled around the world and captured over 90,000 images of beautiful and sacred places. His work is published, and he is currently a highly awarded photographer.

Donna left the music business as well and became the executive director of a family strengthening organization. There she became interested in positive psychology, became certified in it, and was a teacher’s assistant to Harvard Professor Dr Tal Ben-Shahar. She currently is a happiness professor herself at the University of Bridgeport.

The two reconnected a few years ago when Donna performed at the Blues on the Beach festival at Short Beach. After a few connections on social media, they decided to get together. In 2018 they decided to collaborate once again, not harmonizing on stage but bringing his images and her writing together in a Trilogy called Finding Unshakable Happiness. Book one, The View from Within, Spiritual Pathways to Happiness. Book two, Finding Unshakable Happiness, is set to be released on August 1, 2021.

They have also completed and published a social-emotional learning book for children called Let’s be Friends, Meet New Friends from Around the World. The story is based on positive psychology, recognizing the character strengths in children and making friends with culturally diverse youth worldwide. During isolation from Covid, many children became anxious and saddened. This is a book that helps to bring happiness to children and their families.

Both Martire-Miller and Bologna are parents of children who are grown now and have families of their own. Their children and grandchildren were their inspiration. They are very excited to present this book. Their journey has been a long one as friends, musicians, authors, and now as one of Stratford’s own love stories. (He just offered her a ring!)

These books can be found at Bookbaby Bookstore, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Martire Miller and Bologna are available for media interviews, keynotes, workshops, and school visits.

To All Fathers Following the Stratford Crier

From Start to Today
Happy Father’s Day


The nation’s first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in the state of Washington, and 58 years later in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday.

Mother’s Day: Inspiration for Father’s Day?
There are more than 70 million fathers in the United States. The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm–perhaps because, as one florist explained, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.”

On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah,WV, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday.

The next year, a Spokane, Washington, woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910.

Sonora Smart Dodd:
William Jackson Smart was a twice-married, twice-widowed Civil War veteran and father of 14 children, one of whom dedicated her life to the creation of Father’s Day in honor of her devoted and selfless dad.

The story goes that William’s daughter, Sonora Smart Dodd, was attending one of the first official Mother’s Day services in 1909 at her church in Spokane, Washington, when she had an epiphany—if mothers deserved a day in honor of their loving service, why not fathers?

When Sonora was 16, her mother Ellen died, leaving William as a single father to Sonora and her five younger brothers. And by Sonora’s account, he performed brilliantly. “I remember everything about him,” Sonora said many years later to the Spokane Daily Chronicle. “He was both father and mother to me and my brothers and sisters.”

Sonora’s mother Ellen, herself a widow, had three children from a previous marriage. On top of that, William had also been married and widowed before he met Sonora’s mother. William had five children with his first wife, Elizabeth, who were already grown when William became a widower for the second time.

In 1910, Sonora brought a petition before the Spokane Ministerial Alliance to recognize the courage and devotion of all fathers like William on June 5, her dad’s birthday. The local clergy liked the idea of a special Father’s Day service, but couldn’t pull something together so quickly, so they settled for June 19, the third Sunday in June.

On that first Father’s Day in 1910, church sermons across Spokane were dedicated to dear old dad, red and white roses were passed out in honor of living and deceased fathers, the mayor of Spokane and governor of Washington issued proclamations, and Sonora found her calling. She would spend much of the next 60 years pushing for the official recognition of Father’s Day as a national holiday.

Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C.

In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day, and today, the day honoring fathers is celebrated in the United States on the third Sunday of June:

In other countries–especially in Europe and Latin America–fathers are honored on St. Joseph’s Day, a traditional Catholic holiday that falls on March 19th.

Father’s Day: Controversy and Commercialism
Many men, however, continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”

During the 1920s and 1930s, a movement arose to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day altogether in favor of a single holiday, Parents’ Day. For years on Mother’s Day, pro-Parents’ Day groups rallied in New York City’s Central Park–a public reminder, said Parents’ Day activist and radio performer Robert Spere, “that both parents should be loved and respected together.”

Paradoxically, however, the Great Depression derailed this effort to combine and de-commercialize the holidays. Struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards.

When World War II began, advertisers began to argue that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday, but it was a national institution.

Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.