Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day 2007

Did you know that Julia Ward Howe, the abolitionist and social activist so well known for The Battle Hymn of the Republic, began a move to create a "Mother's Day for Peace" in 1870, 34 years before Woodrow Wilson declared Mother's Day a national holiday? After the carnage of the Civil War, Howe dedicated her life to pacifism and reconciliation, and believed that women were uniquely suited to pursue these goals.
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In 1870 she started a movement to create an international day of solidarity among women in the cause of peace -- Mother's Day. She issued the following proclamation which we would do well to heed today, even if we have ignored it for the last 137 years. The emphases are mine.

Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870
Julia Ward Howe

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:"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.



(And thanks to S. Melissa Waters, O.P., for sharing this story with me)

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