It’s Mother’s Day, and like so many others of us, I’m thinking about my mom, Ila Heger Steutermann. This is my second Mother’s Day without her.
It was interesting to read a bit of background about this day by historian Heather Cox Richardson, who writes that Mother’s Day dates back to 1908. However, there was another day, one I hadn’t heard about before, known as Mothers’ Day—with the apostrophe after the “s,” indicating the plurality of mother. Many mothers.
That Mothers’ Day dates back to the 1870s on the heels of the Civil and Franco-Prussian Wars during which mothers lost many sons, grandsons, nephews, cousins, uncles, brothers, and fathers. Those men who did survive returned home different men, often injured physically and if not physically, mentally.
Julia Ward Howe is better known for writing The Battle Hymn of the Republic during the early days of the Civil War, but she also created the Women’s Peace Movement, promoting a “festival which should be observed as mothers’ day, and which should be devoted to the advocacy of peace doctrines.” Howe hoped to put an end to war, and she figured mothers around the world could get behind this effort, too. Howe intended for these days to be held around the world on June 2nd every year. I’m not sure how many years these celebrations happened. Not many, because Howe soon realized that in order for women’s voices to be heard in government, first, women needed to gain voting rights. So, Howe focused her energy toward women’s suffrage. It took a while to achieve. It wasn’t until 1920 that the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote.
Today, I’m thinking of my own mother, but I’m also thinking of all those women who did so much to advance women’s rights in the United States—and all the many women currently working today to ensure our equal place as participants in American government.
May peace be with us all.
Hawaii added one new COVID-19 case today to a new total of 632.