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The Real Meaning of Mother’s Day

Mothers of the Fallen

Once upon a time, Mother’s Day was not just another retail event. Its creation was never aimed at selling stuff like flowers and greeting cards, perfume, or jewelry.  It came from a much more urgent and universal longing.

I love that this is a day set aside to honor the world’s most important people – mothers.  But I also think it is high time we strip away the cloak of sugary commercial sentiment and restore its original intention.

For all women of every color, of every nation, and every belief; who have children endangered by war; who have husbands, partners, sons, and daughters in uniform; who despair at the endless conflict; who do not long for blood vengeance, but instead for healing, Mother’s Day is for us!

In 1870, author, suffragist, and pacifist Julia Ward Howe campaigned for a Mother’s Peace Day, the forerunner of Mother’s Day. The holiday was eventually created, with the additional help from a mother and daughter, both of whom were named Anna Jarvis.

I think it is especially appropriate this year to recall that Howe, author of Battle Hymn of the Republic, was from Boston and was a true patriot in every sense of the word.

In her Mother’s Peace Day Proclamation, she appealed to mothers throughout the world to step up and put a stop to war.

May we hear and heed her words today and arise, all women who have hearts.  Let us unmake this day of commerce, and turn it instead to a day of working towards a far more important and urgent cause.

Blessings to all who mother peace.

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of 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 been able to teach 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 does 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 and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, 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.

Julia Ward Howe