Waynedale Political Commentaries

Celebrating Mothers & Wellness

According to the calendar hanging in my office, the month of May is both Mental Health Month and Employee Health and Fitness Month. Here at the Wayne Township Trustee Office, we pay attention to both of these causes as we work to reduce stress, build relationships, and encourage healthy self-esteem activities.

For example our in-house ARMM committee (Active Relations: Motivation and Morale) will be celebrating Mother’s Day (May 12th) this month by having all the mothers and mother figures here bring in pictures celebrating that special relationship we all take part in in one way or another.

The Mother With Children statue by William Douglas Hopen, outside the International Mother’s Day Shrine, at the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia

As someone who appreciates history, I looked back at a previous Voice of the Township column about Mother’s Day and thought it was worth revisiting for several reasons, not the least of which is that the day of celebrating our mothers started with three different women in three different parts of our country for three distinct reasons.

An early observance of Mother’s Day occurred only about 100 miles north of Fort Wayne in Albion, Michigan on the second Sunday in May 1877. On that day, Juliet Calhoun Blakeley got up and finished the sermon at her church after the pro-temperance pastor became too distraught over his son’s drinking. Mrs. Blakeley’s sons were so moved by her gesture, that they vowed to return to Albion every year to honor their mother, and they urged others to honor their mothers on that day too.

Another pioneer in the effort to establish Mother’s Day was Julia Ward Howe, who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic. After the Civil War, Mrs. Howe started a peace crusade. She initiated a Mother’s Peace Day in Boston in 1870, and by 1873 the celebration spread to 18 cities in the United States held on the second Sunday in June, Another precursor to our modern Mother’s Day celebrations.

The woman who was the most influential in establishing Mother’s Day was Anna Jarvis. She was the daughter of Ann Jarvis, who in 1868 worked to establish Mother’s Friendship Day to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War. Ann Jarvis, originally from Grafton, West Virginia, had wanted to expand Mother’s Friendship Day into an annual memorial for mothers, but she died in 1905 before the celebration became popular.

Anna Jarvis, who had moved to Philadelphia, took over her mother’s cause. A small service was conducted on May 12, 1907, in her mother’s church, Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal in Grafton, and the first official service was in the same church the next year on May 10. Mother’s Day was declared as a holiday by West Virginia in 1910 and other states quickly followed.

On May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day; and on May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a Proclamation declaring the first national Mother’s Day. In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a stamp commemorating the holiday. The Grafton Church, where the first celebration was conducted, no longer operates as a church and now has become the International Mother’s Day Shrine and a National Historic Landmark.

Later in her life, Anna Jarvis became disillusioned with how commercial Mother’s Day had become. In her opinion, what had started as a religious service to honor mothers had evolved into a commercial holiday.

We remember our mothers and mother figures and feel grateful for the care and concern they show for our well-being throughout our lives. Happy Mother’s Day to you and yours.

Wayne Township Trustee - Austin Knox
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Wayne Township Trustee - Austin Knox

Trustee Austin Knox is a Fort Wayne native who, on January 10, 2020, was unanimously elected trustee at a caucus of Democratic precinct committee leaders of Wayne Township. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer