I have always written off Mother’s Day as a manufactured holiday promoted by the greeting card companies to plague me into an annual bout of May guilt. This is indeed, is not the case, as the day originated in 1870 through the efforts of one of the most remarkable woman in the history of the United States, Julia Ward Howe, renowned for penning the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but also for her diligent efforts as a social reformer, suffragist and bearer of the New England Transcendentalist tradition.
She was an amazing woman given the span of her accomplishments and interests and this day should be dedicated to her. Here is her proclamation, written in response to the horror of the Civil and Franco-Prussian Wars:
“Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
“We will not have great questions decided 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 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 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 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.