In the photo – Anna Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe who in the 19th century promoted the idea of mother’s day. Then 3 men who wrote about their moms, Lincoln, Edison and Churchill
Today, May 14 is Mother’s day as well as being Easter 6 and Rogation Day. Originally Mother’s day was less about Mom but the conditions she faced in being Mom. In wartime it became a peace movement. Finally, it became about Mom herself in our time.
In the late 1850s, Ann Jarvis established Mother’s Work Day, a day dedicated to teaching mothers how to better prepare food and clean so as to prevent disease. The mission was to improve sanitary conditions. This mission was driven by personal experience, as seven of her eleven children died before adulthood. Though personal, this experience was anything but unique in a time before vaccines and a widespread understanding of germ theory. They raised money for medicine and helped families with mothers suffering from tuberculosis, among other supports.
After the War, Julia Ward Howe, who wrote the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, also wrote her “Appeal to womanhood throughout the world”, later the “Mother’s Day Proclamation”, which attempted to unite women around the world together to bring about a lasting peace:
“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, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
After the war, with tensions still high between those who fought on opposite sides, she “organized a Mothers’ Friendship Day…to bring together soldiers and neighbors of all political beliefs.” It was a great success despite the fear of violence.
Mother’s Day continued to be celebrated as a movement for peace, but was only celebrated at local levels until the turn of the century. In 1908, Anna Jarvis, daughter of the aforementioned Ann Jarvis, began to campaign to make Mother’s Day a federally recognized day in honor of her mother who had died in 1905. The first nationally celebrated Mother’s Day was in May of 1914. But what had been a day dedicated first to cleanliness and later to peace was again repurposed, this time to celebrate mothers themselves.
Famous men have celebrated their moms:
Abraham Lincoln – “All that I am or hoped to be, I owe to my angel mother. ” Nancy Hanks Lincoln promoted his love of the written word.
Thomas Edison on his mother- ” The good effects of her early training I can never lose. If it had not been for her appreciation and her faith in me at a critical time in my experience, I should never likely have become an inventor. I was always a careless boy, and with a mother of different mental caliber, I should have turned out badly. But her firmness, her sweetness, her goodness, were potent powers to keep me in the right path. My mother was the making of me. The memory of her will always be a blessing to me.”
Winston Churchill – A London editor submitted to Winston Churchill for his approval a list of all those who had been Churchill’s teachers. Churchill returned the list with this comment: “You have omitted to mention the greatest of my teachers—my Mother.”
This year’s Mother’s day prayer in our church service today covers a variety of moms-
“We give thanks and pray for our mothers and for all who have loved and cared for us as mothers in this life. We pray for mothers who rejoice; shield them. We pray for mothers who are weary, frustrated and overwhelmed; give them rest. We pray for those who have lost children; comfort them. May we love one another with your own tender compassion. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”