It Began in Peace

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    Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  

    This video only speaks of a woman who widened the celebration of mothers.  But before Julia Ward Howe, there was Anne Reeves Jarvis.  In 1858 Anne Reeves Jarvis of Culpepper Virginia founded Mother’s Day to honor her own mother.  But Jarvis was no traditional woman (not that there’s anything wrong with that–I honor, today and always, all women’s choices). But while Jarvis did found Mother’s Day to honor her own mother, she had the country and the larger world in mind. Jarvis was, sorry, Glenn Beck, a community organizer and social activist.  In what is now West Virginia, she created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to work toward clean water and the reduction of infant mortality.  

    Perhaps you’ll be surprised that what is now West Virginia became the first state to celebrate Mother’s Day.  In 1868 Anne Reeves Jarvis created a post-Civil War reconciliation event called Mother’s Friendship Day for those who fought on both sides of the Civil War. She wanted to “reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War.” Grown men and women were said to have wept as those who had not spoken for years joined hands.  Family and friends who sometimes had been on opposite sides now had to find ways to move on.    

    When Anne Jarvis died in 1905, her daughter carried on her effort.  Both women came to oppose the increasing commercialization of their movement. But it was for Julia Ward Howe to make Mother’s Day a more national celebration of what the real founder of mother’s day movement dreamed of.

    1870 Julia Ward Howe founded Women’s Peace Day events . And in 1873 Howe’s conception of Mother’s Day took root.  Few today realize how women’s movement fore-mothers created this day with earnest hopes of peace.  I urge you to read Julia War Howe’s proclamation:


    Mothers 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.

    More information may be found at Julia’s Voice.

    To the mothers out there, whether Democrat, Republican, Green, Independent, or Libertarian, in the spirit of our fore-mothers, I say: Happy Mother’s Day and …Peace.  

    • While West Virginia actually broke off, many of the Appalachian counties of the southern states were torn during the Civil War.  Many a family from Tennessee and North Carolina have been surprised to learn that their great-great grandfather didn’t fight for the south as one would suppose, but actually the north.

      There are cemeteries throughout WV where decades later you were buried by which side you had fought on.  Opposing family members were not welcome, even at funerals.  But by feminizing this personal divide “I want to be buried with my mother” you eventually saw families come back together — first through death, then in life.

      The “Mother’s Day Church” in Grafton, WV is a stone’s throw away from where I was born, and I’ve done a reading there.  It is a tiny place in a small town — but it serves today as a reminder that one person can change the world.

    • libra

      connected to the Mothers Day celebrations, but, still… Would that none of the mothers were reluctant and all of the children welcome. But, before that happens, all the girls need to know:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05