The First Mother's Day
Mother's Day - I always suspected that this was just another day invented by greeting card companies and florists. Not that mothers don't deserve special recognition. They certainly do.
Unfortunately, in our society, the only mothers singled out for special recognition are the ones who drown their children in bathtubs or bash in their heads with a rock. So a day to honor the millions of mothers who resist the temptation that we all have felt is a good thing even if it is a conspiracy between greeting card companies and florists - but it isn't.
Originally Mother's Day was not to honor mothers at all. It was an attempt to organize women into a powerful antiwar movement by Julia Ward Howe in 1870. I think very possibly it was bastardized into what it is today by men trying to defuse something they couldn't control - that is, women organized for a single cause.
I can see it now. The men in 1870 patting the little woman on the butt, giving her a dozen roses, and telling her that her head was much too pretty to be used to think about something like war and politics. Besides, after you finish cooking supper and doing the dishes you'll be too tired to go to some old meeting anyway. Oh, and while you're in the kitchen, how about fetching me a cup of tea. Thank you Dear and Happy Mother's Day.
Anyway, I wasn't there. I don't know. But I did want you to see Julia Ward Howe's Proclamation for the first Mother's Day in 1870. I think it is just too damn bad they didn't manage to carry it off.
Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870
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 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.