Certainly it is good that we have displays of devotion on Mother’s Day, roses and chocolates, taking Mom out to dinner.

But there is a need to reclaim the idea of Mother’s Day proposed by Julia Ward Howe back in 1870. Her “Mother’s Day Proclamation” reads in part, “Arise then, women of this day. … From the bosom of the devastated Earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, ‘Disarm! Disarm!’”

Think of the 2,400 mothers across the U.S. grieving the deaths of their children in Iraq. And think of Iraqi mothers grieving their dead children. The mothers of Gold Star Families for Peace should be honored as “Mothers of the Year” for stepping forward in the name of their dead sons and daughters, to speak out against George W. Bush’s illegal, immoral war.

Howe’s idea of a national holiday honoring mothers didn’t catch on until Anna Jarvis and her daughter, also named Anna Jarvis, took up the fight. The first Anna Jarvis was an Appalachian homemaker who started agitating for improved sanitation in her community in 1858. She initiated “Mother’s Work Day” to promote sanitation. Her daughter continued the campaign and the first Mother’s Day was celebrated in Grafton, W.Va., on May 10, 1908. It became an official national holiday in 1914, celebrated on the second Sunday of May each year.

Anna Jarvis saw the holiday as an occasion to raise demands for improved living conditions.

So it is not amiss on this Mother’s Day to consider the condition of mothers across the U.S., the still homeless mothers of New Orleans driven out by Hurricane Katrina and Bush callousness, the millions who are underpaid, without health care, facing attacks on their reproductive rights. Mothers and children bear a disproportionate share of the burden of Bush’s economic royalism. In truth, he and the Republican-majority House and Senate have waged war on working-class mothers and their families. This is an election year. Let’s pledge to work to break the right-wing Republican control of the House and Senate Nov. 7! That would strike a powerful blow for mothers.

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