How many know Mother's Day began as an anti-war protest?
...most Americans do not realize that Mother's Day began as an activist's response to war. Though the holiday has become a warm family tradition it began not as a feel-good national event but as an urgent call for women and mothers worldwide to unite against war.
"Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters, to prevent the waste of human life of which they alone know and bear the cost?" Julia Ward Howe wrote in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war and just a few years after the Civil War ended.
Shortly after, she published her Mother's Day Proclamation, which was a call for peace and disarmament, and staked out a day to organize around. Howe's vision of a peace movement led by mothers gained support and the first Mothers' Peace Day festival was held in Boston on June 2, 1873.
Mother's Day for Peace was celebrated in at least 18 U.S. cities that first year and the tradition continued in Boston for the next 10 years.
Four decades later, the idea of a day for mothers was revived by Anna Jarvis, whose own mother had previously tried to establish Mother's Friendship Days as a way to heal the divisions caused by the Civil War.
...in 1914 Mother's Day was proclaimed a national holiday by President Wilson.
Julia Ward Howe's Mother Day Proclamation in full :
Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
"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 bosom 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 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.
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.