“Arise then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be of water or of tears!” So begins the original Mother’s Day proclamation of 1870, written by Julia Ward Howe, who also authored “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as an anti-slavery activist in 1862.
In a new video by Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films, in collaboration with CODEPINK, Gloria Steinem explains the original intent behind Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day idea: “Mother’s Day really was in its origin an anti-war day, an anti-war statement. Julia Ward Howe was sickened by what had happened during the Civil War–the loss of life, the carnage. And she created Mother’s Day as a call for women all over the world, to come together, and create ways of protesting war, of making a kind of alternate government that could finally do away with war as an acceptable way of solving conflict.”
“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, andpatience….‘”
The video renews the original Mother’s Day call for women’s leadership in pursuing peace, offering support for the organization No More Victims as a concrete way to take action and help Iraqi children who have been wounded in the war.
Alfre Woodard explains her motivation to take part in the video and support this Mother’s Day renewal: “My mother used to say all the time, ‘I look after people’s kids, because one day I know somebody will look after my kids. I feed people’s kids, because I know somebody one day will feed my kids.’ That informs a lot of who I am as a mother. That I know I’m not only parenting Mavis and Duncan, but I’m responsible for every child that comes through.”
“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… to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”