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A Little History

May 14, 2017

Mother’s day in America finds it beginnings in the Civil War. The author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic became so distraught over the bloodshed and death of the Civil War that in 1870 she issued a Mother’s Day Proclamation calling for mothers around the world to put an end to war. She continued to press for this mothers day of peace to become a national holiday. It lost steam in a few years, but a group in West Virginia led by Anna Jarvis continued to celebrate a variation of mothers day in an effort to reconcile families and friends that had been divided by the animosities of the war.

In 1908 Anna Jarvis died. Her daughter began an active campaign for Mother’s Day to become an official holiday. On May 10, 1908 the first Mother’s Day celebration took place at a Methodist Church in West Virginia. That same year the YMCA requested a bill be introduced to make Mother’s Day a national holiday. It was defeated that year but the next year every state in the Union had Mother’s Day celebrations. In 1912 West Virginia became the first state to officially recognize Mother’s Day and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday of May to be a national holiday in remembrance of mothers.

Anna Jarvis did not remain content with this for long. What she had meant to be a simple day of remembrance was taken over by retailers. The holiday soon became seen as a way to sell an abundance of flowers and chocolate. Soon the lady who fought to get Mother’s Day recognized was fighting to stop what it had become. She failed in that but left a lasting legacy of a national day in which we stop to remember our mothers and to express our appreciation to them.

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