Honoring Mothers Throughout Our History
May 3, 2011 ~
Mother’s Day is one of our nation’s proudest traditions. It is the one day of the year dedicated to moms. This was Anna Jarvis’ dream: a single day to memorialize mothers everywhere. She recalls a quote from her own mother during a classroom lecture, when she said, “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother’s day. There are many days for men, but none for mothers.”
Some of the smartest, most successful women throughout history were mothers first and foremost. Here are some of their stories in honor of Mother’s Day.
Julia Ward Howe Although Anna Jarvis was eventually successful in declaring Mother’s Day a national holiday, Julia Ward Howe’s “Mother’s Day Proclamation” was one of the earliest calls to celebrate mothers in the United States. Written in 1870, Howe’s proclamation was a peaceful reaction to the violence and bloodshed of the American Civil War. She became so distraught by the war that she called on fellow mothers to join together and protest what she saw as the futility of their sons killing the sons of other mothers. This angst also led her to call for an international Mother’s Day to celebrate peace and motherhood: “In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient…”
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Jacquelinewas mother to John Jr. and Caroline Kennedy and wife to the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. She summed up her personal experiences shortly and eloquently when she said, “I’ll be a wife and mother first, then First Lady.” Jackie was smart and eloquent and believed that raising her children to be the same was her top priority in life. She was once quoted as saying, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” Her son, John Jr., grew up to be a magazine publisher and a lawyer. Her daughter, Caroline, is now a lawyer as well a writer and an editor. The world is a richer, smarter place because of moms like Jackie. Coretta Scott King Coretta was married to the greatest civil rights advocate of our generation, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She was also a mother of four. In addition to her lifelong struggle for civil rights, she also devoted much of her life to children, and not just her own. The American Library Association named an award in her honor. The Coretta Scott King Book Awards recognize African American authors and illustrators whose children’s books “promote an understanding and appreciation of the American dream.” Coretta was daring, bold and tremendously courageous. She once said, “I learned that when you are willing to make sacrifices for a great cause, you will never be alone…” This Mother’s Day, we honor the sacrifices all mothers make to raise wonderful children.
This Mother’s Day, we give all mothers everywhere a standing ovation for the hard work they do every day and the countless hours they will spend raising and supporting their children in the years to come.