Like so much related to the Civil War, the story of Mother's Day and the Civil War is more complicated than it first appears. I wanted to expand on this story, as this year is the 100th anniversary of Mothers Day here in the United States.
So, a little update.
It would seem there are two women who are given credit for making Mother's Day possible - Julia Ward Howe (below) but also, a West Virginian by the name of Anna Jarvis. And, as Mother's Day turns 100 this year in the United States, I've read about a not so well known part of the holiday.
Anna Jarvis' mother, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis, had lost eight of her twelve children before they reached adulthood. And, Ann had worked tirelessly to try to reunite Union and Confederate soldiers and their wives after the Civil War (West Virginia, a state that came into being due to the Civil War when part of the Confederate state of Virginia wanted to rejoin the Union, had plenty of both) by creating a "Mother's Friendship Day", complete with picnics. In 1910, due to the efforts of her daughter, to pay tribute to the effort of her mother Ann, Mother's Day became a state observance in West Virginia, and, in 1914 it became a nationwide observance.
But, eventually, Anna Jarvis regretted what she did, as the holiday became more commercialized. She tried to undo what she had done and return Mother's Day to its roots - and, apparently, went insane in the process.
Mother's Day, in other words, is an extreme example of good intentions gone bad.
Although the holiday is way commercialized, it is (in my opnion) a nice time to pay tribute to our mothers - or, have our children pay tribute to us. Or, for those who did not have a mother present in their lives, to pay tribute to a woman who influenced them.
To mothers everywhere: Happy Mother's Day.
Civil War Sunday - The Civil War Roots of Mother's Day
This will be a short post, as we spend some time with my mother in law. We will have dinner with her, hopefully help her learn to use her iPhone, and then return home to upstate New York.
And it is all because of the Civil War.
True, mothers were honored long before the Civil War, in many cultures and in many ways.
In 1870, a feminist by the name of Julia Ward Howe issued this Mother's Day Proclamation. If this name sounds familiar, she is the same person who wrote the words to what we now know as The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
What was behind this proclamation?
Julia Howe was quite aware that all the people who died or were maimed in the Civil War had mothers. These mothers sent their sons (and sometimes, in disguise, daughters) off to war - and sometimes, these sons fought on opposite sides, brother vs. brother.
Her thought was to have an international day of honoring peace and motherhood.
Of course, our modern Mothers Day celebrations aren't exactly that. They are more celebrations of greeting card makers, chocolates, florists and other purveyors of goods suitable for giving. I hope that my mother in law enjoys the basket of plants we are giving her.
As we like to say in our country, it's the thought that counts. So, happy Mother's Day to my mother in law.