Return To Episode Page Return to Peace Talks Radio Home Page

The Mother's Day Proclamation for Peace of Julia Ward Howe

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!"

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Carol Boss talks with Julia Ward Howe descendent Kate Stickley and Jane Smith Bernhardt who
performs a one-woman show as Julia Ward Howe

Carol Boss: I want to go back now to the proclamation and uhm perhaps see what either one of you think is most powerful in it and I was thinking about the linking that she made of motherhood and its responsibilities. Can either one of you talk about your sense of this sort of seeing it in a new light, pushing hard to uh appeal to women throughout the world and making the connection between motherhood and the responsibilities to protect the human life. Kate?

Kate Stickley: I think that for Julia, she had studied philosophy. She was reading a lot of Plato. She was reading a lot of the ancient Greeks and thinking about not only ourselves as a global community, but ourselves as part of a contextual history and I think that she had looked back at the history of the Western world that she was familiar with and saw that we kept trying to get to peace through war and it was becoming simply illogical to believe that what had not worked for centuries was going to miraculously start working.

So then I think it occurred to her; why don’t we try something completely radical that we’ve never tried which is to get peace through peace. I think that it’s very important to say that Julia would never repudiate or dishonor any of the service that the brave men and women continue to provide for this country.

I think that, as part of being a peace-building you may disagree with war, but I don’t think you take a stand against soldiers and I say this because of the passage that she wrote in her journal on Wednesday, March 22, 1871. So this is from Julia’s journal; “I confess that I value more these processes of thought which explain history than these which arraign it. I would not therefore, my advocacy of peace, strip one laurel leaf from the graves so dear and tender in our recollection. Our brave men did and dared the best which a time allowed. The sorrow of their loss was nonetheless brought upon us by those who believed in the military method. It is no injustice to them that I listen while the angel of charity says; ‘behold I show you a more excellent way. Come now, let us reason together.’ This treating injuries from the higher of magnanimity is the action that shall save the world.”

This is part of her really trying to think about; what is it that I mean when I say “peace”? You know, I mean all these people have died for us to be able to have the United States of America and now that we’re in a later, we can look back at wars that came after her life and think about the same things. So how do you reconcile waging peace with respecting the contributions of people who arguably have helped secure it in one way or another?

Boss: Jane, did you have something that you want to add in terms of what you take from Julia’s proclamation, Mother’s Day Proclamation?

Jane Smith Bernhardt: Well I wanted to stress one quote about motherhood lest those women who have not been mothers feel excluded. Uhm she writes; “Every woman is not in God’s providence a wife and every wife is not a mother, but every true woman has the mother in her and this grand spiritual motherhood exerting its influence and watchfulness and all the walks of life will give every woman a noble part to perform in the great drama of the world.”

And that also I think, on the heels of her radical conversion to a different understanding of what it meant to be a woman through the Suffrage Movement; that a woman was not the ancillary to the man, that she stood before God with equal rights and equal responsibilities, so these were, I think components in this concept of womanhood and motherhood, that motherhood is not an exclusive entity.

Boss: There are different accounts of how Mother’s Day as we know it in this country began and it seems, in various sources, it talks about Anna Reeves Jarvis in West Virginia, and this is in the same period as Julia in the 1850s, and she founded Mother’s Day work clubs to improve sanitary and health conditions in a few cities and there was the goal of trying to lower infant mortality and they also tended to the wounded soldiers of both sides during the Civil War.

And then I read that in the post-war years, she and other women organized mother’s friendship day picnics and other events and that about the time Julia issued her proclamation, Anna Reeves Jarvis initiated a Mother’s Friendship Day for Union and Confederate loyalists across West Virginia.

Boss: So Kate, I think you’ve told me when we’ve talked before that you didn’t find any mention of Anna Jarvis in the writings of Julia.

Stickley: I didn’t, but isn’t it so wonderful that there is this sort of resonance? You know, when a time has come, it gets picked up by so many different strands and I think that it is a testament to the power of the idea itself, that whether it’s Julia going to Europe with her peace brigade, whether it’s Anna Jarvis doing her work which was so important to heal the country after such a brutal brother against brother, family against family, sister against sister conflict. It’s a testament to the idea itself, that it just sprang up whether there is a connection or not a connection, there is a connection which is we need this and I just am so glad that both of them, in their own ways, made such incredible contributions.

Boss: And then it was Anna’s daughter who was also named Anna who was the driving force behind the official establishment of Mother’s Day and I read that she swore at her mother’s grave site to dedicate her life to our mother’s project and establish a Mother’s Day to honor mothers living and dead.

So historically what happened is she did a lot of work. She took to campaigning and in 1912, West Virginia became the first state to adopt an official Mother’s Day and then in 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution and President Woodrow Wilson signed it establishing Mother’s Day, but it actually established women’s role in the family and that it activist in the public arena.

Stickley: But isn’t that so exciting that Julia said; “Let us as mothers come and make our contribution,” and Anna Jarvis said; “Let us as daughters come and continue to carry that flag and here I am as a great, great, great, great granddaughter and the momentum is still alive. Both of those women planted such a strong seed that we continue to keep their memory alive and pass it down to our children and our children’s children.

Boss: Yeah, that’s beautiful. And as a side note, Ann Jarvis, the daughter became apparently increasingly concerned over the commercialization of Mother’s Day; the selling of the cards and the flowers. What a great way to disempower a strong and incredibly noble belief than to commercialize it.

And don’t we see that all the time nowadays where you have something which says we need to make a difference in the world and it becomes a t-shirt for sale for $15.00 and it’s just an attempt to take an idea and capitalize on it to make it less potent, but it doesn’t work. The idea is the idea and it stays the same whether Hallmark tries to take it over or not.

We all continue at some level to really push this idea of family and commitment and change and evolution and dare I say it, it’s such a dirty word, “love.”

Boss: Jane Smith Bernhardt and your portrayal of Julia Ward Howe and your one-woman performances, what have audiences reactions been as far as the relevancy for them of her life and her writings for today? Are they surprised to hear some things that they perhaps didn’t know before and do they wonder why they hadn’t heard about Julia before?

Bernhardt: Yes I think so. There are still a lot of people who don’t know and that’s why this program is such a wonderful thing and I hope it reaches a lot of people because there are a lot of people that haven’t heard that connection and would want to. My gosh! This is not some cut and paste “I love you mom.” This is a call to galvanize the world. This is a call to transform. This is a call to leap forward. This is a call to heal.

Boss: Kate, I think you have a couple more quotes that you found in the journal entries of Julia from about 1871. There was one on how to achieve peace.

Stickley: Yes, Monday, May 22, 1871; “Let no civilized national from henceforth and forever admit or recognize the instrumentality of war as worth of Christian society. Let the fact of human brotherhood be taught to the babe in his cradle. Let it be taught to the despite on his throne. Let it be the basis and foundation of education and of legislation, the bond of high and low, rich and poor.”

Boss: How do you interpret that for our times today?

Stickley: I’m in a master’s program to become a teacher and I can’t think of a greater honor than to be able to work with the young people of today to examine these critical issues of peace, not only from person to person, but how we treat the land, how we’re stewards of the world that we’ve been entrusted to protect and preserve.

I think that education and legislation are the most powerful weapons and again, I think that it’s possible that that’s being commoditized much like Mother’s Day instead of actually having discussions in the classroom, one could argue that we’re selling tests to kids and taking away their right to free thought and free ideas and I’m going to devote the rest of my life to making sure that doesn’t happen in the classrooms that I have been honored to be a part of.

Boss: Have there been moments when either of you have researched this that you had an emotional moment, a moment when you felt like you were really touching this woman, Julia Ward Howe? I would bet it’s true for both of you, but Kate, researching your ancestor.

Bernhardt: When I was 13, I had a vision of a boat and it was just pure happiness and it sort of has guided me for my entire life, this crazy vision that’s a joke in my family; “Hey Kate, has your boat come in?”

So when I first started researching Julia, I was a young woman. I was struggling to make it in New York and I was at a job I hated and I had just gotten paid and thought; you know, if that paycheck hit the bank, I’m going to go to Harvard and I’m going to actually look at her journals. Sure enough, the paycheck had hit the bank, I got on a $20.00 bus up to Cambridge and I got there and I went into the library and I asked for the journals, and the librarian just scared me stiff because she was so fancy and I was so not. She said, “There are 20 notebooks and they’re in the basement. Would you like them all?” She said, “Remember, you can say ‘yes,’” and I said, “Yes! Yes, I want them all!” So she brought them up and she wheeled them on this wooden cart and there are all these beautiful notebooks. The physical notebooks that my great grandma touched and I thought; where do I start?

Because I’m not very imaginative, I said, “Okay, I’ll just start with the one that isn’t the same shape as the others.” So I picked the biggest book and I said, “Oh, well where do I start?” I said, “Well, let me pick today’s date,” and I turned to the page to see if she had an entry for the same date as the day I was in Cambridge. There was an entry. She had not written a thing. It was a picture of a boat! [tears up] I’m sorry. I definitely felt a connection at that moment.

Boss: That gave me a shudder.

Carol Boss talks with Susan Galleymore, author of Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak about War and Terror

Carol Boss: So how did you feel? Did you son come to you one day and say I’m joining up?

Susan Galleymore: Yes. I came to the United States as a young adult and I really wasn’t around for the Vietnam era and all of the protests against that. I just heard about it from afar. It never occurred to me that my son was fodder for the United States military, that the recruitment process was so intense here. I never expected him to go into the military. It was just not something that I thought my son would do, in fact he was in college when he enlisted and I think he just kind of had a day one day when he was studying Chinese and decided gee, this is kind of boring. You know how it is for young people. He came home and said that he had enlisted already and it was quite a stressful time. Then I worked on him for some time to try to get him to change his mind, but he was quite determined.

He went into the military. He then became an army ranger and then he became a Special Forces medic. So he quickly differentiated himself from the folks that were arguing against the war and went in and made the best of what he did and he liked it because he found a way, a path really, to do what he wanted to do there which was become a medic.

Boss: So how long after he enlisted was he deployed to Afghanistan? That was back in 2003.

Galleymore: He actually enlisted in 1999, so it was pre-war and I talked to him about it. I said the United States has a history of every time there’s a new you have a total new slate and you never know what’s going to happen at the time. Clinton was in office, don’t assume that the next President won’t get us into war and he was all; “Oh, it will never happen.” And that’s something I have heard over and over and over again from young people; “Oh, there won’t be a war. Oh, war will never happen.” And so of course he went in and he was deployed to Afghanistan pretty much right off the bat and he was there for, I think it was six months.

Boss: As his service continued, what was it like for you day-to-day?

Galleymore: It was really, really tough. I didn’t know any other mothers in the military at and I was a single parent, so I didn’t really have a spouse to lean on about it and I was working fulltime and all of that and it was very stressful on me because I was dealing with clients. I was working as an internet consultant and so I had to deal with corporate clients. Some of them, companies like Chevron, which was, in my opinion, at the root of the problem of the war. I was having a lot of trouble that way, a lot of nightmares. One night I just woke up and I thought I just can’t continue this way. I need to find other mothers who are going through the same thing and that’s what I started doing at that point. A little later I started training to be a GI Rights Counselor.

Boss: So Susan, talk to us about your decision to visit your son in Iraq. I would think that it’s highly unusual for a mother to visit her child on a military base in a country with whom we’re at war. So why did you decide to do this?

Galleymore: Well, as I just mentioned, I was looking for other mothers to talk to about how they were dealing with their sons and/or daughters being in the military and what I came across very quickly was a real lack of understanding about what was happening over there.

I had lived in the Middle East prior to coming to the United States. I lived in Israel/Palestine for a year and a half and so I knew a lot about how the systems worked there, at least in that part of the country of the Middle East and I just felt like there was a huge ignorance about what war actually was and how it was affecting these other people.

That was the other thing; I found that the mothers were very much focused on my kid, my kid, my kid and I was too, but I also recognized that there were a lot of other people, a lot of other mothers involved in this who were not getting their voices out at all.

I also wanted to tell my son that, in war situations, people do things that they become ashamed of later and that kind of shame is what wears you down over time. I know that I’d never said that to him. I’d argued with him about not going into the military and so forth, but I never actually told him why I was so much against him enlisting. So it became really important to me to do that.

I looked around and I discovered a delegation of women that was going over there and I joined the delegation and we went via Jordan and then drove from Jordon to Baghdad.

Boss: So it’s not like you showed up at the base one day is it?

Galleymore: No, I did everything I needed to do. Once I got to Iraq I met a few other journalists there and one of them in particular was working around the area that my son was based on which was Bala north of Baghdad in what was then called the Sunni Triangle and so he told me what I needed to do and I contact the public affairs officer at the base and I told her that I was intending to come at such and such a day at such and such a time and that I wanted to see my son. She never acknowledged the receipt of my email, but I emailed her again and I said, “I will be there.” So I got a driver and that’s what I did, I showed up at the base, but they had been forewarned.

Because it’s the Sunni Triangle, I had to wear a hijab covering on my head and first I got out of the car and walked to the soldiers at the gate and they put their guns on me and told me to get back in my car and I said, “No, I’m here. I’m an American.” I showed them my passport and took off my hijab and at that point, everything changed. It was like; “Oh, wow! You’re here? What are you doing here? Gee, I wish my mom would come visit me.” It was that kind of thing. It was a totally different moment. One moment they were aggressors and the next moment they were very welcoming.

Boss: How did your son feel about you coming to see him? Was it a complete surprise?

Galleymore: No, I had told him prior to that. No, I wasn’t about to ambush him. I told him I was coming. He told me I shouldn’t come, that it was too dangerous and so forth and when I got there, he was very accommodating. He showed me around to the section of the base that we were on and we basically just talked a bit. He then left and I’m pretty sure he got ribbed quite a bit that night.

Boss: Did you deliver the message you wanted to deliver to him?

Galleymore: I did. I did, yeah.

Boss: And he was receptive?

Galleymore: Well, he just kind of – I mean he was in one world and I was in another world and so he just let me talk and we didn’t argue or anything. All of that was done. He was in the military.

Boss: Susan Galleymore is the author of Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak about War and Terror. She’s speaking to us from her home in Alameda, California.

You made the decision that you were going to take some time over different intervals it sounds like to travel and interview mothers. It sounds like mostly in warzones, mothers of soldiers and bombers I take it. Were there common threads running through most of the stories?

Galleymore: The common thread of course is trying to keep their children safe and to try and make sure that they just get out of this in one piece. I did talk with other mothers, American mothers, whose kids had been killed, with some whose kids had been severely maimed and a few whose kids got out apparently whole, but when they were over there, they were writing letters home to their parents and I share some of those letters in the book because I feel like the parents were saying to me, “Gee, there’s a real change in who my kid is becoming in this thing.” The first letters were very chatty about what was going on and then later, they were much more cautious about what they were saying or they were being sort of overtly racist about it.

So there’s a whole range of people and again, in the United States, it’s different into what goes on in Israel. In Israel everyone is conscripted. In the United States, there’s a choice, so-called you’re a volunteer. People that tend to go into the military in the United States either have some romantic notion about war or are what we called “The poverty draft,” the young people who don’t really have other options. They’re not going to go to college. They need to get skills and they think the military will be the place to do it. So I talked to a lot of those kinds of parents also.

Boss: I’m going to guess that in these stories, a lot of the stories, there was a lot of expression of grief, of terror, of fear. Did you get to talk to mothers who lost their children?

Galleymore: Yes, I did. I got to talk with folks who had lost their children in war and some who had lost their children to suicide after they had come back. It was Jeffrey’s parents made sure that his name was remembered, but Jeffrey had been in Iraq and he had been force to shoot a couple of Iraqis and the way that happened was actually very similar to the thing that happened in my life in Vietnam except on a much smaller scale.

His comrades, Jeffrey’s comrades were telling him to shoot this guy and he hesitated and he didn’t want to shoot them, but eventually he did because he was urged to and he then took their dog tags and he came home and completely went off the rails. He was drinking, he couldn’t talk to his parents about any of this because they basically didn’t understand what he was going through, but he also wasn’t getting any help from the Veteran Affairs, the Veterans Administration and so eventually he hanged himself in his garage and his father found him, but he had done it in such a profoundly touching way. He had spread a series of photographs in a half circle and put these dog tags of these Iraqi men down and he had put some photographs as himself as a kid with his parents and so forth and then he hanged himself. He hanged himself basically I think because he wasn’t able to work through what he had done and he wasn’t getting any help and his parents, again, were very supportive of him, but he couldn’t really talk to them, it sounded like, about what he had seen and what he had done. That was a fairly common theme I have to say.

Boss: So you talked to his mother?

Galleymore: I talked to both of his parents, yeah. When I did my book tour I was in Boston and I invited them to come and speak and they did and they were still – it was at least a year or two after he had died and they were still trying to grapple with what had happened, what they had done wrong, why this had happened. His father talked to me about how one night a couple of days before Jeffrey killed himself (he was a big boy or big man, 6’ and his father was a big man too) he came and sat on his father’s lap and his father put his arms around him and Jeffrey just cried and cried and cried. He said it was like he was a year old again. His father comforted him as best he could, but again, how do you deal with that? What do you do when your child is so profoundly disturbed?

Boss: Susan Galleymore is the author of Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak about War and Terror and she’s speaking to us from her home in Alameda, California. Susan, tell us about your title; a Long Time Passing and what that means.

Galleymore: As you know, “Long Time Passing” is Pete Seeger’s music. In fact, I think I have a little paragraph of it in the book. “Where have all the soldiers gone? Long time passing. Where have all the soldiers gone? They’ve gone to graveyards every one. When will they ever learn?” I used that as a Pete Seeger dedication in my book.

It’s a funny thing; when you’re under a lot of stress, as you are when your child is at war and you’re going through these nightmares all the time, you kind of have these flashes of inspiration and I mentioned earlier that when my son was still in Afghanistan I woke up and I thought I just can’t continue this way. I have to find other people that are going through the same thing and I have to do something more.

That’s when I started thinking about the “Long Time Passing,” that song. That was always going to be the title of my book. It has to do with a lot of pieces coming together in a very specific way which often happens and I think that’s sort of intuitive brilliance. So that’s where that title came from.

I had an organization called “Mothers Speak.” I still have it. Motherspeak.org is the website and that’s where I also share a lot of stories that did not get into the book. “Mothers Speak about War and Terror,” the end “terror” was a counterpoint to the War on Terror.

Boss: Did the experience of talking with so many mothers change you somehow?

Galleymore: Absolutely. There is no question that it changed me. Now how it changed me is debatable. It changed me in a lot of different ways.

Boss: Tell us a couple.

Galleymore: Well I met some really extraordinary mothers here in the United States and in those other countries that I visited. Because my take on things, which I believe is reflected in your radio show which is Peace Talks, is a little alien to some mothers. I mean there are a lot of mothers that are very much for their kids going to war. I not going to mention any of the names of those different groups, but there are a lot of mothers who don’t have a problem with it because they believe that it’s my country uber alles and I’m not that way. Again, I’m an immigrant here, so I don’t really feel that way about the country I was born in or this country. I think that there are some things which are more important which is people.