Every year we set aside one day to celebrate our mothers or miss our mothers or lament that we didn’t have more loving mothers. Some of us celebrate that we are mothers, grieve the loss of children or the inability to have ever given birth.
But Mother’s Day has not always been a sentimental Hallmark holiday. The very first Mother’s Days were attempts to organize mother’s for political reasons and social causes.
One of the first organized Mother’s Days was led by Julia Ward Howe. It was 1870 when Julia appealed to mothers to rally for peace.
This was her proclamation:
Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
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 out 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.
Julia’s words should hang heavy on us in this day when we continue to be steeped in violence, discrimination and war. Isn’t it time we hear her cry to protect children wherever they might live?
Mother’s Day wasn’t started as a way to celebrate moms. It was started as an attempt to rally mothers together for a cause greater than themselves – the cause of peace.
It doesn’t seem to have done the job.