It makes sense that the best way to honor a mother is to work to end wars that kill her sons, but the true origin of Mother’s Day has been buried under an avalanche of flowers and chocolates. (Not that there’s anything wrong with flowers or chocolate – but peace is more important.)

It was Julia Ward Howe, writer of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, who first planted the seed for a day for mothers to come together. It was about 12 years after she wrote that song that she instigated the first Mother’s Day Peace Proclamation in 1870. A good article in the News-Messenger explains that Howe’s peace proclamation was in protest of the devastation that the nation had experienced during the Civil War and gives an excellent back-story to the holiday’s origin.

Gloria Steinem, Vanessa Williams, Felicity Huffman, Fatma Saleh, Alfre Woodard, Ashraf Salimian and Christine Lahti, among others, also honor Ward Howe’s legacy and discuss the origin of Mother’s Day in a video produced by our friends at Brave New Films.

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