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Mothers Day for Peace

What are you getting for Motherís day? If you could have anything, would you wish for world peace, a better world for your child? Motherís day in America has its roots in the peace and activist movements. It was a day to encourage activism. It wasnít a day for dinners and flowers, it was a day for conferences on world peace and day for marching in the streets.

In 1858, Mothersí Work Day was organized by young Appalachian homemaker, Anna Reeves Jarvis, to draw attention to sanitation and the deaths caused by polluted water. In 1872, Julia Ward Howe picked up the Mothers day theme in response to the carnage of the Civil war. Julia was the author of the Civil War song, Battle Hymn of the Republic, An activist, a writer and a poet. She had a vision of women from all over the world convening on June 2nd every year to settle international issues in the interest of peace. In 1870, she wrote an appeal to women, urging them to rise up against the war in her famous Mothers Day Proclamation. Americans in eighteen states continued to celebrate Motherís Day for Peace on June 2nd for thirty years.

When Anna Reeves Jarvis died in 1905, her daughter, Anna Jarvis, decided to honor her mother by advocating for a national Motherís Day. She began by convincing her church to celebrate Motherís Day on the second anniversary of her motherís death, which fell on the second Sunday in May. The next year she was able to convince the city of Philadelphia to celebrate Motherís Day on the second Sunday in May. She and her supporters continued to write letters to ministers, businessman, and politicians advocating for Mothers day. By 1911, Motherís Day was celebrated in almost every state. Along with Annaís supporters, the flower and card industry heavily lobbied Congress. They were successful, on May 8, 1914; President Woodrow Wilson signed a Joint Resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.

This year on Motherís Day, when your family is giving you flowers, stop to think about what you and your family could do to make this world a better place. Take an opportunity to return Motherís Day to its roots, decide what activism your family could engage in. Discussing your vision on how to make the world a better place could make this years Motherís Day dinner a lot more interesting.


A reading of Julia Ward Howeís Motherís Day Proclamation by Vanessa Williams, Felicity Huffman, Christine Lahti, Alfre Woodward, Fatma Saleh, Ashraf Salimian, and Gloria Steinem.


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