A Hymn for Mother’s Day

(I first posted this on Sunday Epidemic a year ago. When I restarted the blog in December, I saved it. Some things are good enough to get a second chance. This is one of them. I’ve added a little to it for it’s reappearance today.)

Contrary to popular belief, Mother’s Day is not a holiday fabricated by Hallmark. Neither was it intended as a schmaltzy sentimental day to be celebrated with flowery cards and diamonds from Zales.

Mother’s Day was first a rallying cry to mothers everywhere to rise up and claim their voice. It was born of deep and active faith. It was grounded in the women’s movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was part of the same movement that brought women the right to vote and championed peace and labor rights.

Today the pay gap between women and men still averaging 77 cents per dollar.

Today the world can marshal an all-out international search for 239 people on a missing airplane, but can only wring it’s hands over 276 missing girls in Nigeria.

Maybe this Mother’s Day we should skip the cards and the sentimentality and hold a rally.

Here, then, is a poem for Mothers’ Day you probably won’t find on a Hallmark card.

A Mother’s Day Proclamation

Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe (May 27, 1819 – Oct 17, 1910) Image via Wikipedia

By Julia Ward Howe
(who also wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic)

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
“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.

For more on the real history of Mother’s Day, see this excellent summary by Diana Butler Bass.

Happy Mother’s Day!

One thought on “A Hymn for Mother’s Day

  1. I just found Ur site….I had an idiopathic brain aneurysm in 2005. I landed in an ‘assisted living’ in South Mississippi. My only child, Ben, finished college working 3 jobs. Marriried, now lives out west. Mother (80 plus) & the 2nd daughter (& 3rd of the 4 of us, think this is CONSERVATIVE of them. The ‘Mothers Day’ certificate they handed out says I am I have lived here longer than ANYONE here. *I was the 4th resident here & only turned 60 this past Decenber 9. I am alive by the Grace of God.

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