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    The Original Mother’s Day Proclamation

    By Julia Ward Howe

    May 7, 2014

    Available languages: Deutsch, Español

    • Richard Paul

      Your 2014 article, “The Original Mother’s Day Proclamation” which was re-run today, is very false. This article suggests that Anna Jarvis’s Mother’s Day had something to do with Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Peace Day. According to Katharine Antolini, chair of the history department at West Virginia Wesleyan College (who has studied Jarvis & how Mother’s Day became a national holiday), the two celebrations had absolutely nothing to do with each other. Given how savagely and persistently Anna Jarvis fought to maintain the specificity and particularity of what she called “My Mother’s Day,” this is a significant error. If your article had offered these same sentiments, and prefaced them by talking about a holiday to honor mothers that Julia Ward Howe had tried to establish, I would not have said anything. Instead, the preface says, “In the United States, the origins of the official holiday go back to 1870.” They do not. All bandages are not Band-Aids. All copiers are not Xerox Machines. The truth matters.”

    • Merlyn Winters

      It will be offered in place of our prayer for the day in church this Sunday, Mother's Day!

    • johanna m gyuro

      Wow!! I never knew this about either the holiday or this woman who wrote this and established the cause on which the holiday was commemorated. Thank you for the history lesson. Happy Mother's Day ladies of the world!!

    • Barbara Derman

      Today it needs to be a message about protecting reproductive rights!

    • Adrienne

      I second the motion of all the commenters. Love and Hugs to all.

    • Nancy Lander

      Given the current state of our union and the resulting rise in activism, it would be great if next year there were marches all over the US and other nations that commemorate Mother's Day for the original purpose. Father's day could join in as well. I would certainly be an active participant. It isn't too late, in fact it is timely.

    • Donna McCauley

      Wow! That is great and that's what we should be doing! We women can save the world!

    • Sandra Shove

      The final paragraph is her heartfelt plea for world peace: "In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality..." Perhaps, it will take mothers, with the help of God, to save the world.

    • Gladys Brayer

      The manner in which Mother's Day is celebrated today is wonderful. However, the purpose for which it became recognized as a national holiday is a historical story that should be told. Thank you for printing it. I plan to copy it to share with others.

    • Sandra

      I would like to say, yes Mother's Day is commercialized and takes away the true meaning to the actual Mother's Day celebration, in being a wife, mother, aunt, older sister, cousin and friend. There is so much meaning in being human itself and for both men and women, as it is the equality and peace are not expressed enough for all people and their hereditary nationality. If my mother did not show or model respect, care and love for one another and my father did not share how to care for the land and all habitants on this freely given earth, I would not be the woman I am today! I am ever so grateful for my parents and for those who were leaders and have guided me in my whole entire life. I am very thankful for life itself as I have lost so many lives to trauma and addictions.

    • Charles N. King

      really appreciate this article. It rings true and I think we need to get back to the original dtheme of peace. I say God Bless the Mothers and it is a shame we got away from the original meaning of the holiday.

    • Dianne

      What a beautiful article, now I know the true meaning of Mother's day.

    • Judy

      This is an eye-opener.

    • Jack Guirey

      Be she ever so humble, Mom is no wimp............

    • godhuli bose

      Thank u for posting this. Not all of us have had the fortune of caring mothers. But the meaning of mother means to care and give unconditional love. If u are a woman and offer love to those continously around you, especially if u work with children, then you are a mother. I don't have children myself but I love all chidlren. So happy mother's day to all women with big hearts who radiate love. Most women can "have" a child but only the wise and generous can "raise" one.

    • Leslye Goldman

      It is a shame that most of us were not taught in school the true meaning of Mothers Day. We were taught many meaningless things,this proclamation has real meaning as well as teeth. I am sixty years old and for the first time I have learned the meaning of Mothers Day. I feel so sad to have had such a misunderstanding of such as important commemoration!

    • Susan Leslie

      I've never seen this before. It's very moving.

    • Valery

      The depth of her words should inspire and bring forth such a deep yearning for love and peace throughout the world. It is time for a change in America, in much of the world too. What if that change could come from mother's love? " Let them not undo all we have taught," Nothing short of brilliant!

    • Debby

      Beautiful! Women before us worked so hard to get us here. Sacrificed for the next generations. We have been given the tools, now if we can just get to use them!

    • Yarig

      It is beautiful and I just love to know that people in those times were so clever and moral. God bless us all.

    • Robert Deen

      Had the congress the foresight then to enact this proclamation rather than making Mothers Day simply a time to honor their mothers, we would be living in a very different world. The fact that they did not gives clarity to the value of war as seen in the eyes of so many both then and now. As a son and father would that it were different. One thing I know though, is that the truth of this declaration as with the greater truth that Peace is our true nature, both women and men, will finally be revealed in the daily lives of our children and children's children. This will happen because the truth of it was bold revealed in 1870, set in to consciousness and as Truth will always ultimately win out, So shall the power of this proclamation find form in the lives of all on this planet.

    • Larry G. Mueller

      This article is beautiful and has a presence all of its own. The quest for peace must be international and at the heart of Action of all nations. Julia Ward Howe is truely a woman before her times. Is it possible that we can ever live without war? I certaintly hope and pray we can.

    • Ann Scott

      Wonderful! Thank you for reminding us of what it really means to be a caregiver. We are to stand up for our charges, whether or not they are our children or others. Bless the UN for helping us along the path Julia suggests.

    • Dolores Curry

      It was a great article, and so very timely...or more to the point so timeless.

    • Nadine

      If only these words were a remembrance of times past, still their poignancy resonnate today . May war and hunger be eradicated soon in the 21st century. May all our children live to experience peace in our world.

    While countries around the world celebrate their own Mother’s Day at different times throughout the year, several countries, including the United States, Italy, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, and Turkey celebrate it on the second Sunday of May.

    In the United States, the official holiday stems from the efforts of Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, who in 1907 began a campaign to have Mother’s Day officially recognized. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson did this, proclaiming it a national holiday and a “public expression of our love and reverence for all mothers.”an engraving of Julia Ward Howe

    Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)

    Long before that however, in 1870, Julia Ward Howe – an abolitionist best remembered as the poet who wrote “Battle Hymn of the Republic” – worked to establish a Mother’s Peace Day. Howe dedicated the celebration to the eradication of war, and organized festivities in Boston for years.

    Today’s commercialized celebration of candy, flowers, gift certificates, and lavish meals at restaurants bears little resemblance to Howe’s original idea. There is nothing wrong with that. But here, for the record’s sake, is the proclamation she wrote in 1870, which explains, in her own impassioned words, the goals of the original holiday.

    Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your 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 is not the balance of justice.” Blood does not wipe out 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 learning after his 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.

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