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Our Opinion: Your day, Mom

May 12, 2002

Moms, today's your day. It was set aside just for you, to show how much you're appreciated.

Today the phone lines are busy with children calling to wish Happy Mother's Day. The lucky moms will get the messages in person, accompanied by hugs and pecks on the cheek. There are plenty of flowers being delivered today and candy and stuffed animals have been selling like hot cakes in department stores and roadside stands.

Your little ones have been laboring in secret in schoolrooms, molding plaster or clay into lifelong treasures or etching those three little words of endearment onto construction paper.

Maybe you'll get breakfast delivered in bed or a trip out for dinner, but whatever you do, leave the cooking and cleanup for the kids.


Mothers have been praised since time began. The book of Proverbs tells of the godly mother whose "children rise up and bless her; her husband also."

The ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated holidays praising mothers of their gods, as did the Celts.

In Britain, Mothering Sunday first was celebrated in the 17th century on the fourth Sunday in Lent, but that lasted a mere two centuries or so.

On our side of the Atlantic it took a few attempts, first by Anna Reeves Jarvis in the mid-1800s and later by Julia Ward Howe — author of "Battle Hymn of the Republic," who began promoting a "Mother's Day for Peace" in 1872 after the devastating Civil War. Celebrations faded after about 30 years, and a stamp was issued in Howe's honor more than a century later.

Officially Mother's Day began thanks to the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Anna Reeves Jarvis. On May 10, 1908, a West Virginia church honored mothers in its Sunday service.

The ball began rolling.

A Philadelphia merchant joined the campaign for Mother's Day later that year, and before year's end the first bill was presented to the U.S. Senate at the request of the Young Men's Christian Association. The bill died and was sent back to committee.

That didn't stop those determined to honor their mothers. The following year — 1909 — Sunday services were held in 46 states and in Canada and Mexico.

West Virginia adopted the day officially in 1912 and in 1914 Congress passed a joint resolution, signed by President Woodrow Wilson, emphasizing women's roles in the family. Wilson declared the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.

Jarvis would later rue the day she started the campaign. Fed up with the commercialization of the holiday she meant as one of sentiment, she spent her later years trying to stop what today is a multibillion-dollar industry.

Despite those efforts, Mother's Day is celebrated at different times of the year in many countries around the world.

Today you may be one of the lucky ones to benefit from the sentiment Jarvis intended.

Enjoy. And may your children rise up and bless you.

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