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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day


I've been learning a lot about Mother's Day over the past week. Did you know that it was first proposed in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe (of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" fame) as a call for peace and disarmament for mothers who had lost sons in the carnage of the Civil War? Although Howe failed in her attempt for a "Mother's Day for Peace," Anna Jarvis co-opted the idea in 1908 and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother's Day, as a day for American citizens to fly the flag in honour of those mothers whose sons had died in war.

It seems especially pertinent that we remember the words of Julia Ward Howe today, 137 years after they were first spoken. Nothing much has changed.

Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870

by Julia Ward Howe

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"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 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.

Happy Mothers Day to all mothers reading, as well as all of us who yearn for peace in our time.

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