Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day-a cry for peace

It is estimated that Americans will spend $3.5 billion at Mother's Day brunches and a total of $15.8 billion on Mother's Day this year.

As we celebrate, it's worth recalling that Mother's Day began as a woman's protest against war and its aftermath.

Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), a social activist, wrote the American Civil War anthem, 'Battle Hymn of the Republic.

She was an abolitionist and feminist who walked the Civil War battle fields and worked with the widows and orphans of that war.

When conflict between France and Germany threatened a new war, Howe penned her Mother's Day Proclamation urging mothers to rise up and prevent their sons from going to war. In 1872 she began promoting June 2nd as a Mother Day for Peace.

Howe was unsuccessful in getting Mother's Day for Peace established. It wasn't until 1914, on the eve of World War I, that President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother's Day a national holiday.

On this Mother's Day, when over 4,000 American mothers (3,935 since President Bush declared "mission accomplished")and more than one million Iraqi mothers have lost their children to the senseless and costly U.S invasion of Iraq, it's worth reflecting on the Holiday's origins.

Mother's Day Proclamation

by Julia Ward Howe, 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.

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