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“Arise Then…Women of This Day!”

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“Arise Then…Women of This Day!”

Posted by Candice Knezevic on May 11, 2009

Hopefully, you’ve already wished your mother a happy Mother’s Day and sent her flowers, chocolates, or your well wishes. Modern Mother’s Day is quite different, however, from its original conception.

Over a century ago, it actually began in America as a day for peace inspired by the Civil War, originated by Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. Despite having penned “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” 12 years earlier, Howe had become so distraught by the death and carnage of the Civil War that she called on mothers to come together and protest what she saw as the futility of their sons killing the sons of other mothers.

Unfortunately, Howe’s Proclamation is just as relevant today as it was so many years ago. And so, in the spirit of the original conception of Mother’s Day, let’s come together as mothers, daughters, and sons to celebrate the strength and courage of Congo’s mothers, and call for an end to the deadliest war in the world. As Howe said, “Arise then…women of this day!” Check out Enough’s RAISE Hope for Congo campaign to learn how you can join the movement.

Mother’s Day Proclamation
By Julia Ward Howe

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with 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 and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
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…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
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
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.


Photo: A mother with her child at an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in North Kivu, DRC. By Candice Knezevic