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Thoughts on Mother’s Day

Every day is Mother’s Day and a mother’s nurturing love is never ending. Our mothers bring us forth with the unerring belief and hope that each one of us can be the very best human ever. We honor our mothers by living the best loving lives that we can. On Mother’s Day we honor our mothers for all the things mothers do for us great and small.  


We find ourselves as a country mired in wars. Mother’s Day was founded by mothers who yearned for Mother’s Day to be an international day of peace, this as a result of our own Civil War, when families were fatally divided and before women had the right to vote let alone equal rights to work and live.
As we honor our mothers with tokens of love let us strive to be all that our mothers have hoped for us to be. Consider Julia Ward Howe’s original proclamation:

The original Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870 by Julia Ward Howe:


Arise, then women of this day!

Arise all women who have hearts,

Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears!

Say firmly:

“We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies,

Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of 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.

As women of one country

We’ll be tender to 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 solemnly take counsel with each other as the means

Whereby the great human family can live in peace,

Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Ceasar,

But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask

That a general congress of women with out nationality,

Be appointed and held at some place deemed 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.


The Festival of Peace did not happen until 1904, and it was then decided to have one day in the year set aside to prompt women to work toward resolving conflict peacefully. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day. As the two nations Julia Ward Howe speaks of (Yankees and Confederates) are now united so may the nations of the world be united as one country earth where the citizens are all just members of the diverse and beautiful human race.

Russ Bennett lives in Waitsfield.

A snippet more history

The first celebrations in honor of mothers were held in the spring in ancient Greece. They paid tribute to Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. During the 17th century, England honored mothers on "Mothering Sunday," celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

In the United States, Julia Ward Howe suggested the idea of Mother's Day in 1872. Howe, who wrote the words to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” saw Mother's Day as being dedicated to peace.

Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia is credited with bringing about the official observance of Mother's Day. Her campaign to establish such a holiday began as a remembrance of her mother, who died in 1905 and who had, in the late 19th century, tried to establish "Mother's Friendship Days" as a way to heal the scars of the Civil War.

Two years after her mother died, Jarvis held a ceremony in Grafton, W. Va., to honor her. She was so moved by the proceedings that she began a massive campaign to adopt a formal holiday honoring mothers. In 1910, West Virginia became the first state to recognize Mother's Day. A year later, nearly every state officially marked the day. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed Mother's Day as a national holiday to be held on the second Sunday of May.

But Jarvis' accomplishment soon turned bitter for her. Enraged by the commercialization of the holiday, she filed a lawsuit to stop a 1923 Mother's Day festival and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a war mothers' convention where women sold white carnations -- Jarvis' symbol for mothers -- to raise money. "This is not what I intended," Jarvis said. "I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit!"

When she died in 1948, at age 84, Jarvis had become a woman of great ironies. Never a mother herself, her maternal fortune dissipated by her efforts to stop the commercialization of the holiday she had founded, Jarvis told a reporter shortly before her death that she was sorry she had ever started Mother's Day. She spoke these words in a nursing home where every Mother's Day her room had been filled with cards from all over the world.





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