Did you know that Mother’s Day was started to promote peace? After seeing the physical and emotional effects the Civil War had not just on the soldiers but also on the widows and orphans, Julia Ward Howe* wrote, “Arise all women who have hearts…” in her Mother’s Day Proclamation.
Mother’s Day Proclamation
“Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our 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 our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow 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, each bearing after their own time 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.”
I love to hear your thoughts. Do you think things have changed much since Howe wrote this proclamation? A full one-half the world’s population is made up of woman. Should women take up the call to end war as a solution to conflict as Howe did in the mid-1800’s? Is it up to women, or is it possible for men to be included in this call to peace?
*Author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”