The meaning of Mother's Day

The origin of Mother's Day, as it is celebrated in the United States, has far less to do with cards, chocolates, and flower arrangements than many people realize. There are conflicting accounts regarding who the original inspiration for Mother's Day was, however, three of the women most widely regarded as having influenced the holiday Howe, Anna Reeves Jarvis, and her daughter &

also named Anna.

Howe was an abolitionist, poet, and author of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." In 1870 &

with memories of the Civil War fresh, and thoughts of the Franco-Prussian war heavy on her mind &

she wrote in her journal:

"As I was revolving these matters in my mind ... I was visited by a sudden feeling of the cruel and unnecessary character of the contest. It seemed to me a return to barbarism, the issue having been one which might easily have been settled without bloodshed. The question forced itself upon me, 'Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters ...?'

"I had never thought of this before. The august dignity of motherhood and its terrible responsibilities now appeared to me in a new aspect, and I could think of no better way of expressing my sense of these than that of sending forth an appeal to womanhood throughout the world, which I then and there composed."

Her appeal, which would become known as The Mother's Day Proclamation, reads, in part:

"...Again have the sacred questions of international justice been committed to the fatal mediation of military weapons. ... But women need no longer be made a party to proceedings which fill the globe with grief and horror. Despite the assumptions of physical force, the mother has a sacred and commanding word to say to the sons who owe their life to her suffering. That word should now be heard ...."

Julia spent the rest of her days working tirelessly for peace, including suggesting a national festival, "a day which should be called Mother's Day, and be devoted to the advocacy of peace doctrines."

At around the same time, Anna Reeves Jarvis, living in West Virginia, was organizing clubs to care for the poor, the sick, and the young &

calling them "Mothers' Work Day Clubs." When the Civil War ensued she encouraged the clubs to nurse and care for the wounded of both sides, and following the war, organized "Mothers' Friendship Days."

Following her death in 1905, her daughter Anna, inspired by her mother's efforts, worked tirelessly for the establishment of a national holiday honoring mothers and service. She succeeded with this mission in 1914 (though would later come to regret it when the holiday became commercialized) when President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May, Mother's Day.

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