Saturday, May 10, 2008


This is a column I wrote for a newspaper many years ago -- and I would hardly change a word of it today.

Aaaah, it's Mother's Day again - and my children will call me, or come by, as they always do, to wish me a happy and peaceful Mother's Day. They know better than to bring flowers or gifts, though . . .

Historically, there have been three voices of reason in regard to Mother's Day.

The first one was Anna Jarvis, a homemaker in the Appalachians, who organized a day to raise awareness of the poor health conditions in her community - a cause she believed would be best championed by mothers. She called it "Mother's Work Day."

When she died in 1905, her daughter (whose name was also Anna) lobbied politicians and influential businessmen, in honor of her mother, to create a special day for mothers. In 1914, then-President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill to make Mother's Day a national holiday.

Initially, the day was celebrated with cards, flowers and letters, but eventually, when gifts became more commonplace, Anna Jarvis was furious that the sentiment of the day was being compromised at the expense of profit and greed. She eventually filed a lawsuit, and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a convention that was selling gifts for mothers. Before she died, she said that she regretted ever having started the tradition in the first place because it had lost its original meaning entirely.

Meanwhile, back in 1870, Juliet Ward Howe (who wrote the lyrics for the Battle Hymn of the Republic) campaigned to start a 'Mother's Day for Peace.' Her idea was that women - who were wives, daughters, sisters and mothers, no matter whose side their men fought on in war - bore the brunt of human loss more than anyone else. She wrote this 'Mothers Day Proclamation,' which, shamefully, has been largely ignored since it was published…

Mother's Day Proclamation

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.

THIS is my idea of Mother's Day, and the ONLY reason I celebrate it - to align myself with other mothers around the globe in our 'samenesses.' And every year at this time, I feel like I become the 'lone voice in the wilderness' when I bring up this history, when I write another column about it, when I remind my children what Mother's Day really means to me. And every year I silently honor these three women - and all women who are sisters, mothers, daughters and wives of men who wage war.

Here's another source that describes exactly how I feel about this whole thing...
War is not the answer for mothers.

And finally, last year on Mother's Day, someone sent me this link ...
Standing Women

As I registered on the Standing Woman web site, I'll be standing at the Nautilus 'statue' at Clover Point at 1 pm, for 5 minutes of silence. Will you join me this year for a Happy Mother's Day ... for Peace?

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