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The concept of Mother’s Day as we know it in Australia began in the United States in the days of the Civil War by two ladies who were Peace advocates and suffragettes. They started a campaign to care for wounded soldiers from both sides by creating Mother’s Day Work Clubs to improve public health.

They made a Mother’s Day proclamation in 1870 and called on mothers of all nationalities to join together and promote the amicable settlement of international disputes. The movement did not succeed. The lady’s name was Anna Jarvis but she persisted with the idea of setting aside a special day to honour all mothers because a mother is "the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world".

 

She started her campaign in 1905 at the time of her mother’s death. She held her first memorial service at her local church in West Virginia in 1907 proposing it to be a national holiday. In 1908 Congress rejected this proposal but by default, West Virginia, followed by other states, adopted the idea and by 1911 all states of the Union were observing it as a holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May to be a national holiday to honour mothers.

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The satisfaction of achieving her goal was short lived however as the day became captive to commercial interests contrary to Jarvis’ intentions. She then started a movement to boycott firms who made profits from Mother’s Day memorabilia and was arrested for disturbing the peace in 1925 when she tried to disrupt the selling of white carnations to raise money for an organisation called “American War Mothers”.

There were also breakaway movements that wanted the day changed to one that had direct religious roots. This was adopted in Britain and some other countries which now celebrate it on the 4th Sunday in Lent

The American retail industry was aiming to have four major gift giving festivals during a 12 month period and Mother’s Day was one of the candidates. They now have Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and Xmas. The concept of the character Father Christmas was first conceived by Bloomingdale’s Department Store in New York.

CraftySecrets MotherChildPG 2010

The rights to it were acquired by The Coca Cola Company but the copyright has now long ago expired.

In Australia, we adopted the American format of the second Sunday in May. It was first celebrated in 1910 with dedicated church services but did not catch on until the 1920’s. In 1924 a lady in Sydney started collecting charitable gifts for mothers who had lost husbands and sons in the Great War. Because carnations are a spring flower and in Australia May is autumn white chrysanthemums were used instead to mark the day.

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Mother’s Day always coincides to a greater or lesser degree with VE Day. VE Day stands for Victory in Europe Day and marks the end of WW2 against Germany.

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Depending where you live it is either the 8th or the 9th May. At the time of the surrender it was the 8th May in Britain and Western Europe. At the time it was already 9th May in Moscow and all other places further East, including Australia.

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The instrument of surrender was signed by German Field Marshall Keitel in Berlin at 9.00pm on 8th May and all resistance was to cease at 11.00pm Central European time by which time it was already 9th May in Moscow.

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VE Day is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Britain and other European countries. On the actual day the King and Queen together with Winston Churchill and other senior cabinet ministers greeted the crowds from the balcony at Buckingham Palace. The two princesses. Elizabeth, now our queen, and her sister Margaret were allowed to mingle with the crowds incognito.

 

In the United States the surrender coincided with President Truman’s 61st birthday. He dedicated the victory to the memory of President Roosevelt who had died only a month earlier. In the United States and in Australia the celebrations were more subdued because we were still fighting Japan.

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U.S soldiers celebrating the end of World War II

In Australia large celebrations were considered inappropriate while we still had troops fighting the Japanese and many still prisoners of war in Japanese prison camps.

Today, VE Day is a forgotten date for most Australians. We had no land based forces operating in Europe. Our principal contingent was RAAF air crew and Australians fighting with the RAF in the air war against Germany. At the time however it was an event of great relief as well as celebration notwithstanding the restraint of the continuing war with Japan.

President Truman made a radio broadcast to the nation and he said the following words:

"Our rejoicing is sobered and subdued by a supreme consciousness of the terrible price we have paid to rid the world of Hitler and his evil band. Let us not forget, my fellow Americans, the sorrow and the heartache, which today abide in the homes of so many of our neighbors - neighbors whose most priceless possession has been rendered as a sacrifice to redeem our liberty." 

 In today’s context this speech could well be repeated by substituting “Hitler” with “Biden” but I would hasten to say that comparing Biden with Hitler is demeaning to Hitler. Hitler was not a traitor to his country. He merely led them down the wrong path and could not or would not see the inevitable end. The German people followed Hitler in the 1930’s because they had faith in him.

I doubt if Biden could attract the same amount of loyalty.

  

Here is his full proclamation, which followed his speech:

And now, I want to read to you my formal proclamation of this occasion:

A Proclamation:

The Allied armies, through sacrifice and devotion and with God's help, have wrung from Germany a final and unconditional surrender. The western world has been freed of the evil forces which for five years and longer have imprisoned the bodies and broken the lives of millions upon millions of free-born men. They have violated their churches, destroyed their homes, corrupted their children, and murdered their loved ones. Our Armies of Liberation have restored freedom to these suffering peoples, whose spirit and will the oppressors could never enslave.

Much remains to be done. The victory won in the West must now be won in the East. The whole world must be cleansed of the evil from which half the world has been freed. United, the peace-loving nations have demonstrated in the West that their arms are stronger by far than the might of the dictators or the tyranny of military cliques that once called us soft and weak. The power of our peoples to defend themselves against all enemies will be proved in the Pacific war as it has been proved in Europe.

For the triumph of spirit and of arms which we have won, and for its promise to the peoples everywhere who join us in the love of freedom, it is fitting that we, as a nation, give thanks to Almighty God, who has strengthened us and given us the victory.

Now, therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby appoint Sunday, May 13, 1945, to be a day of prayer.

I call upon the people of the United States, whatever their faith, to unite in offering joyful thanks to God for the victory we have won, and to pray that He will support us to the end of our present struggle and guide us into the ways of peace.

I also call upon my countrymen to dedicate this day of prayer to the memory of those who have given their lives to make possible our victory.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

 

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