Sunday, May 4, 2014

Honoring our Mothers

Ann Marie Jarvis
In 1868, Ann Marie Jarvis created a committee to established a "Mother's Friendship Day." Her goal was to reunite family's torn apart by the civil war and hoped to turn it into an annual event. There were several observances on a local level but the idea never took off.

June 2, 1872, Julia Ward Howell led a "Mother's Day for Peace" anti-war observance campaign, which was followed by a Mother's Day Proclamation, an appeal for mother's to unite for peace around the world. She too hoped to have the observance every year. While it continued locally for ten years, the movement never made it far from Boston and died out.

Five years later, on May 13, 1877,  Juliet Calhoun Blakeley stepped up to a pulpit and continued a sermon Rev. Myron Daughtery was unable to finish due to distress over his sons. Juliet's own sons, both traveling salesmen, were so moved by her delivery of the sermon, they vowed to return every year to honor her and urged their business associates to do the same. At their insistence, in early 1880, the Methodist Episcopal Church in Albion, Michigan, set aside the second Sunday in May to recognize the contribution of mother's.

Anna Jarvis
On May 9, 1905, Ann Jarvis died. Two years later, her daughter, Anna Jarvis, along with the help of a Philadelphia merchant, John Wanamaker, held a small service in her honor in the small church Ann taught Sunday school. At that first official observance, Anna delivered 500 white carnations, her mother's favorite flower. The following year, another observance was held in that same small church, then again in Wanamaker Auditorium, Wanamaker's store. The next year, observances were reported to be widely celebrated in New York.

Jarvis campaigned to have the Mother's Day observance recognized in the US as a national holiday. It was declared officially in 1910 by the state of West Virginia. The rest of the states followed soon after.

On May 10, 1913, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution, calling for all government officials, including the president, to wear white carnations on the following day in observance of Mother's Day. On May 8, 1914, the US Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day and requested a proclamation. The following day, President Woodrow Wilson issued the proclamation, declaring the first national Mother's Day in honor of mother's whose sons had died in the war.

I've spent years buying mother's day gifts and cards and spending the day with my mother but can honestly say I've never really thought of 'how' this special day came to be. Nor did I know about the struggle it took to have a day set aside just in their honor.

I remember the corsages we wore, red roses instead of carnations, because our mother was still alive, and seeing those wearing white flowers in honor of mothers long gone.

It took the insistence of a few women over forty-six years to see their hope of national recognition realized. As a mother, I'll admit to appreciating the efforts my children go to to make the day special for me, all because they love me. And I'm grateful that small handful of women never gave up because for one day every day, I can stop and appreciate the things my mother has done for me and tell her in every way I can, that she's loved, thought of daily, and will be honored, always.

About Lily Graison

USA TODAY  bestselling author Lily Graison writes historical western romances and dabbles in contemporary and paranormal romance. First published in 2005, Lily has written over a dozen romance novels that range from sweet to spicy.

She lives in Hickory, North Carolina with her husband, three high-strung Yorkies and more cats than she can count and is mother of two and grandmother of three. On occasion, she can be found at her sewing machine creating 1800’s period clothing or participating in civil war reenactments and area living history events. When not portraying a southern belle, you can find her at a nearby store feeding her obsession for all things resembling office supplies.

To see the dresses Lily has created, visit her Pinterest page.

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  1. How touching. I didn't realize how many recognitions and proclamations there were before an actual date was set for Mother's day.
    For my mother, I always tried to send a card--that was it. In her later years, I called, but that was never very satisfying.
    Our daughter never forgets a birthday, Mother's Day, or Father's Day. Always cards, since our relationship is long distance, and I've saved all of them.
    Our son lives far away, and he has our only grandchildren. His wife, darling that she is, makes sure I get a card signed by everyone. I can just see the three boys, now six feet tall or slightly less, being called over to the, sign this. It's for your Texas Grandmother. And they dutifully follow orders. Love those big kids.
    Thanks for the historical explanation of Mother's Day.

  2. Super post! I read the other day that Anna Jarvis eventually got upset at how commercial the holiday got. We are celebrating a day early so my grandson can spend the actual day with his mother. Happy mom's day, everybody! And even if you're not a mom, you're somebody's daughter! xo


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