A Mother's Day Proclamation
Do you know the original intent of Mother's Day?
Mother's Day was intended as an international day of peace and has its roots in the abolition and suffrage movements of the 19th century and in Julia Ward Howe's 1872 issuance of her Mother's Day Proclamation. (Howe, a deeply religious woman, was a writer, poet, lecturer, social activist, and may be more familiar to some of you as the author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, penned in honor of the Union soldiers.) For decades, Howe's Mother's Day of Peace was observed, at first formally and then later informally, by women who were concerned with peace, the elimination of societal ills, and human rights.
In 1914, Congress passed a resolution proclaiming an official and national Mother's Day. But unlike Howe's intent, the purpose of Congress was to honor the individual sacrifices of mothers, rather than consider how war often demeaned those sacrifices. And with the blink of an eye, commercial florists, the developing advertising industry, and our ever-growing consumer-oriented culture perverted Howe's intent even further, transforming the day to one in which mothers are theoretically showered and spoiled with gifts, a day that has become a consumer holiday almost void of any deep meaning.
And so I offer you Julia Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation. And though indeed you should honor your individual mothers on this day, I invite you to imagine what the world would be like if all of us, mothers and fathers throughout the world, were "too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
Mother's Day Proclamation
Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of fears!
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 of murder 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 the means whereby the great human family can live in peace,
And each bearing after her own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.