June 2, 2008

Mother's Day

A hundred years ago, there were two versions of Mother's Day in practice in the US. One was the child of Julia Ward Howe and was celebrated on June 2nd. The other was brought into being by Anna Jarvis and the May 9th holiday eventually morphed into the second May Sunday holiday that is currently known and loved. What fascinates me about these holiday precursors was that they were originally designed not to sell cards, candy and flowers but to promote social and political activism by advocating for progressive issues such as health care, sanitation, anti-war sentiments, and worker's safety.

So, in the spirit of the original Mother's Day and my own mother, I present to you the Mother's Day Proclamation by Julia Ward Howe:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided 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 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 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 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.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

that's really awesome! and duly needed in a culture that considers Girls Gone Wild "feminism."