Mother's Day will be here before you know it; before you go out and buy those Hallmark Cards and flowers, I thought a little history might be appropriate:
In 1858, Anna Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker tried to improve sanitation through what she called Mother’s Work Days. During the Civil War she organized women to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began working for reconciliation between Union and Confederate neighbors.
In 1870, Julia Ward Howe (who is widely known for having written "The Battle Hymn of the Republic") called for women to rise up and oppose all forms of war. Believing strongly that peace and equal rights for all people were crucial global issues, Julia hoped to inspire an international movement of women for peace with her Mother's Day Proclamation of 1870.
Although she failed in her attempt to get formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace, Anna Jarvis’ daughter (also named Anna Jarvis) continued the pursuit of a day honoring women. The first such Mother's Day was celebrated in West Virginia in 1907 in the church where the elder Anna Jarvis had taught Sunday School. In 1914 the U.S. Congress passed a Joint Resolution, and President Woodrow Wilson signed it, establishing Mother's Day, emphasizing women's role in the family (not as activists in the public arena, as Howe's Mother's Day had been).
Interestingly enough, Anna Jarvis became increasingly concerned over the commercialization of Mother's Day: "I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit." She opposed the selling of flowers and also the use of greeting cards: "a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write"(http://womenshistory.about.com/).
I wouldn’t dream of calling for a boycott of flowers or greeting cards (I might get sued), but there are other ways of honoring your mother and other inspirational women in your life – ways that will make a difference in many women’s lives. You might consider making a financial contribution to an organization working for women’s issues such as the Global Fund for Women in honor of a woman (or women) who have had a positive influence on your life.
As for me, although I will be spending Mother's Day with my family, I will be spending the day before with fellow nuclear weapons abolitionists, honoring mothers and creating hope for the children by working to abolish nuclear weapons. We will be holding a nonviolent action and vigil at the gates of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, home of the West coast Trident nuclear submarine fleet, and home to one of the largest concentrations of nuclear weapons in the world.
If you live around Puget Sound, Washington, consider joining us for this event. You can read more about it below. You can also click here for a printable flyer about the event. And, you can view a slide show of the most recent vigil and action by clicking here. Check it out! And whatever you do this Mother's Day, make Mom happy while you make a difference!
P.S. - You can read Julia Ward Howe’s (powerful) 1870 "Mother’s Day Proclamation" by clicking here.
Mom Says: Use Words Not Weapons! Join the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action for a traditional vigil and direct action at the gates of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor on Saturday, May 9, 2009. Honor our mothers, and create hope for the children, as we work together to abolish nuclear weapons.
Gather at 8:30 a.m. at the Ground Zero Center, 16159 Clear Creek Rd. NW, Poulsbo, WA, for nonviolence training and action planning. At 2:00 p.m., we'll walk or ride to the Bangor gate(s). Bring sack lunch, snacks, water, umbrella, warm clothes, money to donate, a peaceful spirit. For driving directions and more information go to http://www.gzcenter.org/. To offer or request a ride, contact Rosy Betz-Zall, 206-782-9305,