Shuck and Jive

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What Mother's Day Can Be About

Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870

by Julia Ward Howe

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.

h/t snad


  1. Thank you, both John and Snad, for finding this.

    Julia Ward Howe was the first person to really campaign for a Mother's Day in the US, and specifically in the aftermath of the Civil War as a means of peacemaking and reconciliation. Howe was inspired in part by a (West) Virginian named Ann Jarvis, who tried to promote a Mothers' Work Day to improve sanitation in field hospitals during the war, then toward reconciliation between Union- and Confederate-supporting neighbors, first in Appalachia and later nationwide after the war. Jarvis' daughter Anna successfully lobbied President Wilson to proclaim May 14, 1914, the first "official" Mothers Day.

  2. Just a suggestion, though it's rather late notice...

    Every year at our church we celebrate Mother's Day by making Baby Kits for Church World Service. Seems like a good way to honor Mothers.

    Something I posted about the other day: