Did you know that on this day, June 2, 1872, Julia Ward Howe began the celebration of Mother’s Day as a holiday to honor mothers by working for an end to all war.
On that first Mother’s Day in 1872 she said:
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be of water or of tears! Say firmly: ‘We will not have great questions decided 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.’ 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 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.
These are deeply challenging words! I find them all the more challenging because of the context in which they were spoken – Mother’s Day. First, because women most often face the greatest suffering through the violence of war. Second, since we have forgotten, in our contemporary celebration of Mother’s Day, how this celebration began. I am grateful for the witness of Julia Ward, for Mother’s and Mother’s Day.