Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Origins of Mother's Day

Here’s a little known fact: the very first Mother’s Day was organized by Julia Ward Howe as a day of peace and reconciliation between the North and South after the American Civil War and to renounce war as an instrument of national policy.

In her famous Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870, Julia Ward Howe wrote:

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 of 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!”

Above: With my mother in July 2005.

During the summer of 2005 my parents visited me in the U.S. from Australia. On July 27, Mum and I attended the weekly Wednesday afternoon peace vigil on the Lake St./Marshall Ave. Bridge. This bridge spans the Mississippi River and links Minneapolis and St. Paul. Earlier in the day, both my parents and I participated in the
weekly vigil outside the corporate headquarters of Alliant Techsystems – Minnesota’s largest military weapons contractor, and the nation’s largest manufacturer of ammunition.

The following short film is from the Mother’s Day For Peace website. Directed by Robert Greenwald, it features a powerful recitation of Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation by Vanessa Williams, Felicity Huffmann, Fatma Saleh, Alfre Woodward, Ashraf Salimian, and Christine Lahti.

Recommended Off-site Links:
Mother’s Day For Peace
“Let’s Reclaim Mother’s Day for Peace” by Queen Noor of Jordan
Women Against Military Madness (WAMM)


Terry Nelson said...

Is that Michelle Bachmann singing in the video?

Michael J. Bayly said...

Good one, Terry!