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Tribute to Those Dads Who Aren’t : ‘Pop’s Day’ Idea Provides Focus for Annual Holiday

United Press International

“Dad is in, Pop is out,” says a caption over one of this year’s pre-Father’s Day surveys.

Although 76% of the 500 male parents polled refer to their own fathers as “Dad,” that title in many cases probably is misleading.

Pop, a more ubiquitous term, also seems more fitting.

Not only, as the survey suggests, is your old man likely to pop out or pop in unexpectedly, he likewise may be expected on occasions to pop up.

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This poll, incidentally, was the fifth conducted by the makers of Bell’s Scotch, but I’ll not dwell on the fittingness of that coincidence. Suffice to say that only 4% of the respondents call their pops “Pop.”

Almost invariably, Father’s Day opens the season for producing new statistics on the increase in the number of one-parent households in this country. While there is no obvious connection here, the latter has given me an idea for a new way to celebrate the former.

You will, I’m sure, agree that up to now our Father’s Day observance on the third Sunday in June has tended to be rather unfocused.

Fuzzy Tribute

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Compared to Mother’s Day, with its red-or-white rose tradition, phone calls and gifts of candy, the annual tribute to the patriarch is downright fuzzy. But it need not be so.

The majority of one-parent households, as we know, are matriarchal. That is, the family is headed by a woman, who is either a widow or a divorcee or who, for reasons of her own, never married.

That, at least, is the type of household that is most frequently mentioned in the public print.

The so-called “man of the house” may have taken a powder, perhaps to avoid child support payments. Or there may never have been any particular man in the house in the first place.

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I, therefore, in view of all these factors, am proposing the creation of yet another monument in Washington.

This one can be called “The Room of the Unknown Father,” and it could serve as the centerpiece of the nation’s Father’s Day celebration.

I mean, this could be a place where military bands could play and the President and other governmental figures could place floral tributes, as seen on the evening news, without the controversy attending a visit to a foreign military cemetery.

There are all sorts of ways to get the project rolling.

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Plan for Monument

First, Congress could approve a national competition to select an architectural plan for the monument. That would militate against the sorts of disputes that surrounded the Vietnam and F.D.R. memorial designs.

I have a completely open mind about the Father’s Day monument. I just know the blueprints should be original and unique. What we want, of course, is a vacant room, perhaps carved in granite, with maybe a marble copy of a court order for the unknown father’s arrest.

Since the symbolic honoree would be unidentified, we would be spared congressional debate over the method of selecting one progenitor to serve as a model for all missing male heads of household.

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