Kanawha DAR to celebrate 100th anniversary of Mother's Day
Sunday, May 11, is the 100th Anniversary of Mother's Day. Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution are especially proud that one of its own members, Anna Marie Jarvis, a member of the Daniel Davisson Chapter DAR in Clarksburg, W.Va., is considered the founder of Mother's Day. Javis by the right of lineal descent from her second great grandfather assisted in establishing American Independence, while acting in the capacity of Sergeant of the Third Maryland Company in Worcester County, Maryland.
Although the honoring on mothers with a special day can be found in the history of other nations and cultures, the roots of the modern American Mother's Day date back to the 19th century. In the years before the Civil War (1861-65), Jarvis helped start "Mothers' Day Work Clubs" to teach local women how to properly care for their children. These clubs later became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. In 1868 Jarvis organized "Mothers' Friendship Day," at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.
The story of Mother's Day is the story of firm determination of a daughter who resolved to pay tribute to her mother, Mrs. Anna M Jarvis and all other mothers of the world. Anna Jarvis dedicated her life to fulfill her mother's dream of the recognition of day for honoring mothers. Though never a mother herself, Jarvis is today recognized as the 'Mother of Mother's Day' - an apt title that defines the remarkable woman's ceaseless devotion to her mother and motherhood in general.
Jarvis was born in Webster, Taylor County, West Virginia, on May 1, 1864. She was the ninth of 11 children born to Ann Marie and Granville Jarvis. Her family moved to Grafton when Anna was a year old. It was here that the Anna did her schooling. In 1881, she enrolled at the Augusta Female Academy in Staunton, Va., now Mary Baldwin College. After finishing her academics, Anna returned to Grafton and did teaching in a school for seven years.
After the death of her father, Granville E. Jarvis, in 1902, the Anna, her mother and sister Lillie, moved the Philadelphia to live with Claude Jarvis, brother and son. Mrs. Jarvis died at age 72 on May 9, 1905.
Anna Jarvis got the inspiration for celebrating Mother's Day quite early in life. It so happened that one day when Anna was 12 years old, Anna's mother said a class prayer in the presence of her daughter. To conclude the lesson on 'Mothers of the Bible', Mrs. Jarvis said a small prayer, "I hope that someone sometime will found a memorial mother's day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it."
Anna never forgot this prayer. And at her Mothers graveside service, she recalled the prayer and said, "...by the grace of God, you shall have that Mother's Day." The words were overheard by her brother Claude. After the death of her mother in 1905, Anna Jarvis resolved to honor her mother...
In 1907; Miss Anna began an aggressive campaign to establish a National Mother's Day in the U.S. On the second death anniversary of her mother she led a small tribute to her mother at Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton. By the next year, Mother's Day was also celebrated in the city of Philadelphia. To give shape to her resolution, she and and her supporters began to write hundreds of letters to those holding the positions of power advocating the need for a national Mother's Day. A fluent speaker, Anna used every platform to promote her cause. Though the response was cold initially, she achieved a breakthrough by gaining the support of the great merchant and philanthropist, John Wanamaker of Philadelphia. The movement gained a fresh impetus with his support. In 1909, 45 states and Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico observed the day by appropriate services. People also wore white and red carnations to pay tribute to their mothers, according to the tradition started by Jarvis. She chose carnations because they were her mother's favorite flowers. The white carnation was her favorite because it represented the purity of a mother's heart. A white carnation was to be worn to honor deceased mothers, and a red one to honor a living mother.
The Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 8, 1914 (38 Stat. 770), has designated the second Sunday in May each year as "Mother's Day" and requested the president to call for its appropriate observance. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made the official announcement proclaiming Mother's Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the second Sunday of May.
Although she devoted her life for the establishment of national Mother's Day, in the end she was disappointed at the way things turned out and increasingly disturbed as the celebration turned into an excuse to sell greeting cards, candy, flowers and other items. She became known for scathing letters in which she would berate people who purchased greeting cards, saying they were too lazy to write personal letters "to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world." Before she died in 1948, she protested at a Mother's Day celebration in New York, and was arrested for disturbing the peace.
Anna died at the age of 84 on Nov. 24, 1948. She is interred beside her mother in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. On the day of her burial, bells on the Andrews Church in Grafton was tolled 84 times in her honor. The Anna Jarvis Birthplace Museum is located four miles south of Grafton on U.S. Route 119/250.
Shirley M. Gilkeson is past vice president general, honorary WVDAR State Regent, honorary regent Kanawha Valley Chapter.
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