Originally it was Antiwar Mother’s Day

Antiwar songFor how many war years longer will a MOTHER’S DAY tradition be to remind the vast Hallmark-washed that Mom’s postbellum holiday originated as a grassroots resistance by mothers opposed to enlisting their sons in war? Quoth abolitionist/pacifist/feminist/poet Julia Ward Howe in the Mother’s Day Proclamation: “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.” Take heed war-loving patriots, Howe also penned the lyrics to Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Up against the wall, antiwar mother.

During WWI the plea expressed itself in a popular song: “I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier.” Of course the song provoked many jingoist responses such as “I didn’t raise my boy to be a coward,” and “I tried to raise my boy to be a hero.” Blood lusty teabaggers were up to their same knee jerk patriotism back then, egged on no doubt by the same industrial military interests. From across the Atlantic, Punch magazine reflected the British eagerness to see the US join their war and lampooned with “I didn’t raise my girl to be a voter.”

Mother’s Day Proclamation, 1870

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.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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