Peace Action Reminder of Mother’s Day History

 In Afghanistan, Congress, Iraq, Middle East, military, Nuclear Weapons, Peace, War

Today we remind humanity of the U.S. origins of Mother’s Day through the voices of peace moms:

As an African-American mother, I respect the abolitionist, suffragist, peace activist, Julia Ward Howe’s intentions as the first American to propose the idea of Mother’s Day with her Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870.  Sickened from the bloodshed of the civil war, Howe’s call to ‘Disarm! Disarm!’ rings true today in Iraq, Afghanistan and with Nuclear Weapons.  We ‘arise then…women of this day’ to her call to join mothers everywhere calling for peace

exclaimed Rosalie Brooks, who has worked for us for over 20 years.

Another Peace Action mom, psychology professor and prolific author, Margaret Anne Matlin, of Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace in upstate New York added

I hope mothers in the U.S. think of the mothers of soldiers and the soldiers that are mothers; think of the mothers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran.  All have suffered in their own way with loss, worry and time away from their children.

Marcia Bernsten with the North Suburban Peace Initiative in the Chicago, IL area, concluded

We cannot forget the most important maternal giver of love on this Mother’s Day, mother Earth, which the U.S. could destroy much of her life with a fraction of its nuclear arsenal that would cause nuclear winter.  In Howe’s words of ‘the great and general interests of peace,’ I ask that all the women who helped elect President Obama urge him to turn his recent words — ‘to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons’ — into international negotiations to get to zero by 2020

Peace Action affiliates and chapters around the country are honoring the tradition of the holiday with actions and events in states such as Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, DC. Peace Action asked its members to join CODEPINK’s second 24-hour vigil in front of the White House.

Ironically, Mother’s Day starts the week in which the House will vote on President Obama’s war supplemental.  Peace Action is a member in both the 1,300 national and local group coalition, United for Peace and Justice and Win Without War, a coalition of national organizations representing broad constituencies.  Both coalitions are supporting a national call-in day this Tuesday, May 12th on the war-funding bill.

Peace Action supporters will tell their members of congress (via a toll-free line at 1-800-517-5696) to stop funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; to support amendments that help civilians through Iraqi- and Afghan-led aid and development; to increase funding for refugees; to support women’s rights; and to provide timelines for bringing troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Additionally, Peace Action supporters will ask members to join over 40 original cosponsers to legislation written by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA 3rd).  This legislation states in part, “Not later than December 31, 2009, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to Congress a report outlining the United States exit strategy for United States military forces in Afghanistan.”  The organization is asking people to report their congressperson position at their blog.

Below is the text of the Mother’s Day Proclamation 1870, By Julia Ward Howe.  You may also view a video reading by notables produced by Brave New Films at Democracy Now!

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,
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.

Founded in 1957 as SANE then SANE/Freeze, we have a lot of famous mothers in our past such as Coretta Scott King, Randall Forsberg, Ruby Dee, Eleanor Roosevelt and others.  No we have over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 34 states and work to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to the conflicts with Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. Please learn more and take action at

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