Mothers Day Witness for Peace
Plan now to join our Multifaith Witness for Peace in Palo Alto on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 9 at 3pm.
The first Mother’s Day was called for by Julia Ward Howe in 1870 with a passionate plea for peace and disarmament.
Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears! …
Inspired once again by Ward’s call, we want to gather people of all faiths and spiritual backgrounds for a Multifaith Worship and Public Witness calling ourselves and our nation to turn away from the ways of war and destruction and choose instead the paths which lead to peace, reconciliation and justice. We will include a reading of letters from children in war-torn countries that express their fears and dreams. We intend our witness to be prophetic, courageous, respectful and inspiring! We hope it will lead us all to a deeper commitment to work together for a world that is safe and life-giving for all, especially the children.
What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day!
Julia Ward Howe is rightfully considered the Mother of Mother's Day in 1870 even though the day would not be officially recognized as a national holiday until Anna Jarvis pushed for this with a campaign starting in 1907. Julia Ward Howe is best known for having written the poem, "Battle Hymn of the Republic". But in 1870, distressed by the horror of the Civil War and fearful of a world war, Julia Howe called upon other women to arise and oppose war in all forms. Her call was for "A Mother's Day of Peace".
(Photo source: Library of Congress)
Julia Ward Howe's full declaration reads:
Again, in the sight of the Christian world, have the skill and power of two great nations exhausted themselves in mutual murder. Again have the sacred questions of international justice been committed to the fatal mediation of military weapons. In this day of progress, in this century of light, the ambition of rulers has been allowed to barter the dear interests of domestic life for the bloody exchanges of the battle-field. Thus men have done. Thus men will do. But women need no longer be made a party to proceedings which fill the globe with grief and horror. Despite the assumptions of physical force, the mother has a sacred and commanding word to say to the sons who owe their life to her suffering. That word should now be heard, and answered to as never before.
Arise, then, Christian women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall 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, 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 then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, man as the brother of man, each bearing after his own kind the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.
In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place 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.
-- Julia Ward Howe in Boston, September 1870
ref: Julia Ward Howe 1819-1910 Vol I by Laura E. Richards and Maud Howe Elliott (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1915)[reprinted with permission from reachandteach.com]