A Mother’s Day Irony

Mother’s Day is an American holiday that is now celebrated in other parts of the world.  But it is also a holiday with a rather ironic historical point to its origin.

Ann Jarvis was a peace activist who took care of the wounded on both sides of the Civil War.  Her daughter, Anna Jarvis, wanted to commemorate Ann’s death when she died in 1905.  Anna’s viewpoint about mothers–especially her own–was  that mothers “have done more for you than any other person in the world”.

By 1908,  Anna was well on her way to campaigning for the national holiday of “Mother’s Day” by holding a memorial for her mother that year.  By 1911, many states observed the holiday and in 1914, President Wilson made it official.

Anna wanted to honor her mother by continuing her mother’s work.  As she progressed with getting this special day to her (and all mothers) recognized, however, she saw a gradually disturbing truth.  She saw that as Mother’s Day gained more attention, it also became more commercialized.  The focus turned from sentiment to profit, and it disturbed her greatly.  She began to protest at various companies  associated with the commercialization she was witnessing.  She targeted companies that made greeting cards, chocolates and other sweets.  And here’s the ironic point to this story:  She was eventually arrested for disturbing the peace!

If you wanted to carry on the work of a peace activist who helped people in need, isn’t disturbing the peace a move in the opposite direction of your goal?  Ah, well, regardless, she accomplished what she set out to do.  Anna Jarvis, in memory of Ann Jarvis, established a day that honors all mothers and what they do for us.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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