Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Happy Mother's Day!
One origin story of Mother's Day in the United States begins with a Mother's Day Proclamation in 1870, by Julia Ward Howe (who also wrote the words to The Battle Hymn of the Republic). She wrote:
Arise then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly: "We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of 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 to those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of a 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 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 solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means where by the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his 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 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.
Every time I read this, or consider this origin of Mother's Day, I am reminded of a talk I had with my own mother. She, Dad and I went to visit her sister and brother-in-law. Both Dad and my uncle had served in WWII. They were discussing the current conflict, Vietnam. As a vociferous teen, well versed in the war and politics, I entered the discussion. Both men lived in the age of my-country-right-or-wrong. I was of the age of dissent.

As we were driving home from our visit, Dad began to chastise me for being so vocal and, in his opinion, disrespectful of my elders. He also said I didn't know all the facts about the subject. Mom, for the first and only time I ever recall, stopped him in disagreement. "It's her friends who are going into battle and dying. She has a right to speak her mind about Vietnam." The subject ended there.

Later, when I brought it up to her, thanking her for supporting me, I was in for another surprise. She put down her coffee cup, looked directly at me and said, "This is the one topic on which your father and I will always disagree. If your brother's number comes up for the draft, I will do everything in my power to get him to Canada. Your father believes he should go to war. I pray it never comes to that. It may destroy our marriage." In that moment, I saw a side of my mother I never had previously. I will never forget how strong, sad and serious she was. I will be forever grateful my brother's number never came up to test her strength.

What do you recall of your mother's strength? What did she teach you about peace and war? What other lessons did she share with you that surprised you?

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