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Friday, May 8, 2015

"Arise then ... women of this day!"

Julia Ward Howe, 1819-1910
Mother's Day as we know it was first celebrated May 9, 1905, at the St. Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, south of Morgantown.

Anna Marie Jarvis is the person most credited for promoting this special day, first held in memory of her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, who had for years had promoted "Mother's Friendship Day" in an effort to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War.

However, some years before Julia Ward Howe, who had written "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in 1861, initiated a series of annual Mothers' Day celebrations as an expression of the peace convictions she had developed after the American Civil War.

Here is the little known but powerful "Mothers' Day Proclamation" Howe issued in June of 1870:

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. 

P.S. The above photo of Julia Ward Howe reminds me so much of my dear Amish mother, also a plucky woman to be reckoned with. I deeply miss her, and want to honor her every day of my life.
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