Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Real Origins of the US Mother's Day Celebration

The Origins of US Mother’s Day

“ The ‘Mother's Day’ antiwar observances founded by Julia Ward Howe in 1872[3]
Julia Ward Howe is sometimes claimed as the ‘founder of Mother's Day,’ implying that Julia Ward Howe's June 2nd occasion and Anna Jarvis' second-Sunday-in-May event are the same thing. It is even suggested that an antiwar and feminist holiday was co-opted by the forces of sentimentality, tradition, and Hallmark. But although Mother's Day was celebrated in eighteen cities in 1873, it did not take root. It continued in Boston for about ten years under Howe's personal financial sponsorship, then died out. Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day, celebrated on June 2nd, was first proclaimed around 1870 by Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation, and Howe called for it to be observed each year nationally in 1872. As originally envisioned, Howe's "Mother's Day" was a call for pacifism and disarmament by women.”

Most people in the US would find it ironic that one of the founder’s of the “Mother’s Day” was a pacifist who wanted a national day of peace. Mrs. Julia Ward Howe was an activist in her day something very unusual for the time. She wrote the Battle Hymn of The Republic but also wrote anti-war poems and lectured widely against war. She was not only a lecturer she worked with widows and orphans on both sides of the US Civil War (an oxymoron is there ever was one, how can devastation and death be considered “civil”?). Howe decided peace was one of the most important causes in the world especially given the cultural proclivities of Europeans who fought and died at the drop of a hat. In 1870 Howe organized women to massively protest war and make a ruckus for peace. Julia Ward Howe was unsuccessful in rising a corps of feminist pacifists but she did have an impact on her time. “In 1870, Julia Ward Howe took on a new issue and a new cause. Distressed by her experience of the realities of war, determined that peace was one of the two most important causes of the world (the other being equality in its many forms) and seeing war arise again in the world in the Franco-Prussian War, she called in 1870 for women to rise up and oppose war in all its forms. She wanted women to come together across national lines, to recognize what we hold in common above what divides us, and commit to finding peaceful resolutions to conflicts. She issued a Declaration, hoping to gather together women in a congress of action.
She failed in her attempt to get formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace. Her idea was influenced by Anna Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who had attempted starting in 1858 to improve sanitation through what she called Mothers' Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.”
I find it interesting to learn the origin of Mother’s Day centered around peace and equality. By today’s customs and advertising campaigns you would never know there were some serious pacifist feminists who spoke out and attempted to enshrine the notion of peace on the public consciousness. If Julia Ward Howe were around today she would probably be denounced by the Bu$hites and NeoCons as giving aid and comfort to “terrorists” and the enemy, such is the twisted mentality of the warmongers and fascists who currently rule AmeriKKKa. This weekend the AmeriKKKan economy will get a much needed boost with all the money spent on flowers, dinners, gifts and presents that will be given, more often out of guilt or custom than real love. Meanwhile the real reason for Mother’s Day, peace, has been flushed down the collective consciousness memory hole.
Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis saw the horrors and devastation of the US Civil War and were moved to act. They acted out of a true sense of humanity, something unusual for white women to do especially during those times. Today the US corporate media keeps the images of AmeriKKKa’s numerous wars suppressed and as sanitized as possible so Joe and Jane Sixpack will not make the connection between the death, carnage and chaos US imperialism is causing around the world and their tax dollars. What if millions of AmeriKKKan women decided to act on their conscience and conviction for peace like Julia Ward Howe, Congresswoman Barbara Lee the only Congress critter with the wisdom and courage to buck the White House and vote against Bu$h’s War on Terrorism or Cindy Sheehan who lost her son Casey in Iraq to renounce war and killing? What impact do you think this would have on AmeriKKKan policy? Do you think the corporate mind control apparatus could suppress such a movement? Do you think warmongering fascists like Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, Charles Krauthammer or Hillary Rodham Clinton could overpower the conviction and passion of motherhood at its’ best? Do you think AmeriKKKa could remain asleep and apathetic to the harm and horror this nation is causing around the world if everyday ordinary mothers galvanized themselves in a movement of extraordinary passion and fervor for peace?
As you scramble to spend and celebrate Mother’s Day 2007 stop for a minute, reflect on the original Mother’s Day, the non-commercial and corporate co-option of Julia Ward Howe’s and Anna Jarvis’ idea of peace. Stop and think about how powerful the idea of peace is. Ask yourself if we actually thought enough of ourselves and loved ourselves enough to believe peace is a practical possibility, what would it take to make peace a reality. Julia Ward Howe and Ann Jarvis saw the devastation and suffering of war. Unlike them, we have turned a deaf ear to the cries of humanity. Unlike them we keep mindlessly running the rat race, oblivious to the carnage and suffering our government is causing. By our cowardice we are allowing the warmongers and fascists to wreck havoc on our planet. What would happen if we decided to be like Anna Jarvis and Julia War Howe and actively press for peace, make peace a priority and our reality? Food for thought on this Mother’s Day 2007.


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