Commemorate Mothers Day as a day dedicated to peace
Mothers Day is not a Hallmark holiday; it is a day dedicated to womens public activism and peace. Better known for penning the famous Battle Hymn of the Republic, Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) proposed Mothers Day as a day dedicated to peace. As a wife, mother, daughter, writer, poet, lecturer, Unitarian, patriot, abolitionist, feminist, suffragist, social reformer, Howe devoted her life to peace and justice. She was inspired by the work of Anna Reeves Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker, who beginning in 1858, tried to improve sanitation in her community through what she called Mothers Work Days. During the Civil War, she expanded her sanitation campaign to both sides of the conflict and organized women to care for the wounded. After the war, Jarvis convened meetings to persuade people to lay down their hostilities. Howe witnessed the carnage of war and the other devastating realities affecting loved ones, the economy, and the environment. In 1872, she wrote a Mothers Day Proclamation as a passionate plea for women to gather and call for disarmament and peace.
By Julia Ward Howe,1872Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!Say firmly: We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, Disarm, Disarm!The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe our dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.
In 1873, women in 18 U.S. cities held a Mothers Day for Peace gathering on June 2, which continued in some cities for 30 years. Taking the seeds planted by her mother and Julia Ward Howe, Anna Jarvis continued the crusade for a memorial day for women by encouraging churches nationwide to commemorate mothers. In 1913, Congress declared the second Sunday in May to be Mothers Day.Lets celebrate Mothers Day by honoring our mothers with expressions of love and gratitude. Lets also honor our hearts and minds that guide us toward peace, and acknowledge the original sentiment of the day by taking a stand against war. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.Lets support the mothers who mourn the loss of their children to war or worry about their safety and well-being. Lets honor Mother Earth too by not occupying, pillaging and pock-marking our planets fragile and non-renewable cultural, natural and physical resources; and by not depositing uranium and other hazardous materials that damage, mutate and destroy Mothers children and other living things.Paula Sutton was raised in Truckee. She now lives in Juneau, Alaska, where she works as an archaeologist.