A Reason to Smile

A Reason to Smile

The meaning of Mother’s Day: then and now

Thank you, Julia!

In the year 2012, it is hard to see Mother’s Day as anything other than another ‘Hallmark holiday’ designed to sell cards, roses, and expensive dinners.

However, this wasn’t how the holiday was originally intended.
Mother’s Day was created by Julia Ward Howe, the same woman who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic (Glory, Glory, Hallelujah).


One of Howe’s biographer’s wrote: ‘the modern commercialized celebration of gifts, flowers and candy bears little resemblance to Howe’s original idea. Here is the Proclamation that explains, in her own powerful words, the goals of the original Mother’s Day in the United States.

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 bosom 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.’


Now, isn’t that a lot different idea than cards and flowers?
The goal, then, of Mother’s Day is not just to show the most important women in our lives how important they are to us, although that is certainly important, but to celebrate the value ofchildren.  That mothers not just in our country, but world-wide have struggled to bring their children into the world, and into adulthood not just to sacrifice them fighting someone else’s war.

So, enjoy this Mother’s Day, and enjoy your much earned pampering and rest (or giving it to the mom who does), but take time to remember Julia Ward Howe’s original goal for the holiday: mother’s of the world uniting for peace.  And that’s a goal we can all live into, every single day.


You are great, and I love you!
And if you love me back, click ‘share’ up at the top!

B. Dave Walters
Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

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