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Fwd: reflection on the meaning of MOTHERS DAY

Wed, May 8, 2013

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Subject: Let’s remember the origin and the real meaning of Mothers’ Day….G

                                                           Mothers’ Day
 
  As we celebrate mothers on their special day, it is important to remember the intent of the founders of Mothers’ Day in America.   Anguished by the carnage of the Civil War and distressed by the brutality and waste of human life in the Franco-Prussian War, Julia Ward Howe, author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and advocate of better treatment for the disabled, prisoners, and the mentally ill, first suggested the idea of Mothers’ Day in 1872 as a day dedicated to peace.
 
  Julia Ward Howe dreamed of organizing women around the world to rally for peace.  In 1870 in a call to action she wrote,”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 great questions decided by irrelevant agencies.  Our husbands shall 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 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…”
 
  In 1858, Anna Reeves Jarvis organized Mothers’ Works Days to improve sanitation in Appalachian communities.  During the Civil War she recruited women to care for soldiers from both sides …North and South.  After the war Mrs. Jarvis ran meetings to persuade men to put aside their hostile feelings.
 
  In 1907 Mrs.  Jarvis’ daughter, Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis, persuaded her church in Grafton, West Virginia, to celebrate Mothers’ Day on the second anniversary of her mother’s death which took place on the 2nd Sunday of May that year.  Then Miss Jarvis undertook a lobbying campaign across the country to get a national Mothers’ Day.
 
 On May 14th, 1914, Senator Heflin of Alabama and Senator Sheppard of Texas sponsored a bill proposing that the 2nd Sunday in May be set aside for all to honor their mothers.  Unfortunately, commercialism took over and turned Mothers’ Day into something that it wasn’t designed to be.  The new advertising industry in America saw the possibilities.  As the Florists’ Review, the industry’s trade journal put it, ” This was a holiday that could be exploited.” Carnations were sold at florists for the exorbitant price of $1.00, a full day’s pay for many people at that time.
 
  Miss Jarvis was outraged ; she filed a law suit and campaigned against those who “would undermine Mothers’ Day with their greed.” In attempting to stop the Mothers’ Day festival in 1923, Miss Jarvis was arrested for disturbing the peace.  The Florists’ Review triumphantly announced that is was “Miss Jarvis who was completely squelched.”  As Miss Jarvis grew older she lost everyone and everything that was close to her.  She died alone in a sanitarium in 1948.  Near the end of her life, Miss Jarvis told a reporter that she was sorry that she had anything to do with the establishment of Mothers’ Day.
 
 In these uncertain times with wars and rumors of war, let us all work to make Julia Ward Howe’s dream come true; let us bring to fruition the dream of Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis who sought to honor her mother, a woman of courage and peace.  As Ruth Rosen, Professor of History, at the University of California has said,”Nineteenth century women dared to dream of a day that honored women’s civil activism.  We can do no less.  We should honor their vision with civic activism.”
 
 I think that Julia Ward Howe, Anna Reeves Jarvis, and Anna Marie Jarvis would be proud of Karen Saum, a 68 year old grandmother, who was arrested for “criminal trespass” in Senator Olympia Snowe’s office in Bangor.  Ms.  Saum simply wanted to talk with the Senator from Maine about the same concerns that Julia Ward Howe had in the 19th century; issues of charity, mercy, patience, war, and the slaughter of innocents.
 
 Since those early days Mothers’ Day has become a billion dollar business; millions of flowers are sold, and Mothers’ Day continues to be the busiest day of the year for the telephone company As we honor mothers this year with beautiful flowers and special gifts, let us also remember those mothers who need much more than one special day, those who need child care, job training, health care, a living wage, and the kind of governmental assistance provided by every other industrialized country on the planet except for the United States.
 
 Rev. G. Oleson
Bangor, Maine

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