If you're from Grafton, West Virginia,
you learn the history of Mother's Day at an early age.
Why? Because the first Official Mother's Day church service was held in the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Grafton on May 10, 1908. I was born in Grafton, WV. I still have a farm there that we visit each summer. As a young boy, I took great pride in this piece of Mother's Day history. Even now, as an adult, it is a source of pride. The fact that my wife now writes a blog called Muthahood.com only strengthens that pride. But it's only part of the story.
Mother's Day Is An Important Part Of
The History Of The Women's Rights Movement.
I grew up thinking that Grafton native, Anna Jarvis, created the idea for Mother's day. This is not the case.
The concept of Mother's Day was first put forth by Julia Ward Howe. She is best known for writing Battle Hymn of the Republic, but she was also extremely active in the women's rights movement. Nine years after writing that song, she wrote the original Mother's Day Proclamation that called on Mother of the world to unite for peace. I did not know this fact until this week. Again, I am moved. Mothers Fighting For Others is my wife's activist blog and Julia Ward Howe's mission over 130 years ago could just as easily be her mission today.
The Role Of Anna Jarvis
37 years after the original proclamation, Anna Jarvis, a women's rights activist herself, began a campaign to make Mother's Day an official national holiday. In 1914, that campaign worked. President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother's Day as a national Holiday. On May 10, 1908, churches in Grafton and Philadelphia held Mother's Day celebrations. The service at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton honored the memory of Anna Jarvis' own mother, Mrs. Anna Reeves Jarvis.
I Am More Proud Now Than Ever
I am proud because I have a front row seat watching Mother's like Rocky, Julie, Tracy and Robin take up Julia and Anna's torch and carry forward the notion that Mother's can make a difference... that Mothers are uniquely suited to make a difference on a global scale. And so, I think it's important that we all read the original Mother's Day Proclamation written by Julia Ward Howe. Perhaps, like me, you will now see Mother's Day in a whole new light.
The Original Mother's Day Proclamation:
Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have breasts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
"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. 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 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.
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 at 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.