Happy Mothers’ Day for Peace

Happy Mothers’ Day for Peace!

For approximately 30 years Mother’s day was celebrated on June 2nd as an day of activism.In 1914 – four years after Julia Ward Howe’s death – president Woodrow Wilson capitalized on the success of the movement she, Reeves Jarvis and others had started when he declared the first national mothers’ day:

While Mothers’ Day has become a great day for florists, card shops, and those who sell lotions, perfumes, and other gifts to “pamper mom”, the origins of the day run far deeper. Anna Reeves Jarvis and the women who originally celebrated Mother’s Day saw it as an opportunity to use their status as mothers to protest violence and injustice. In 1858, Anna Reeves Jarvis organized Mother’s Work Days in West Appalachian communities to protest the lack of sanitation and advocate for workers rights.
The movement took up momentum when in 1870 Julia Ward Howe a suffragist, abolitionist, pacifist and writer in Boston called for a special day for mothers to oppose war. Motivated by her witness of the bloody civil war she dreamed of the establishment of an international Mothers’ Day Festival dedicated to the cause of nonviolent resolution of conflict and international solidarity among all women.

 Julia Ward Howe’s original Mother’s Day – 1870 (from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother%27s_Day_Proclamation )

“Now, Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the said Joint Resolution, do hereby direct the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings and do invite the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodrow_Wilson)

 Sadly, yet not surprising Wilson left out the true spirit of Mother’s day. Neglecting to mention the spirit of international cooperation and solidarity, ignoring the hard won victories for improved working conditions, protection for children and improvements in sanitation and social welfare. Wilson left out of his proclamation a tribute the ongoing struggles to put an end to lynching, to militarism and other violence.

And so today, if you really want to honor mom – in the true spirit of mothers day – get out of the florist and into the streets. March. Rally. Write letters. Feel the need to give a gift? – how about a donation in mom’s name to a group working to improve the lives of all women and make this world a bit more peaceful and just?

Julia Ward Howe’s original Mother’s Day – 1870

from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother%27s_Day_Proclamation 

Our husbands will 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 been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
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.”

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plough 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 and 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 Caesar,
But of God –

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And 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.

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