News Release

Mother’s Day


The first Mother’s Day proclamation, an impassioned plea for peace, was written by Julia Ward Howe in 1870.

Benjamin is a founder of the women’s peace group CodePink and is just back from Jordan and Syria, where she met with many Iraqi refugees and grassroots organizations working with them. A blog from her trip is online.

Benjamin said today: “On the eve of Congress’s anticipated passing of the largest war funding bill yet, $178 billion, Iraqi mothers struggling to survive are being denied in favor of endless war.”

Ban Adil Sarhan is an Iraqi award-winning journalist whose husband and four-year-old daughter were killed in Baghdad. She now lives in Oklahoma with her son. She was honored this past year at the International Women’s Media Forum’s Courage in Journalism Awards.

They will be among the speakers at a press conference on the plight of Iraqi refugees on Friday 10 a.m. at the Stewart Mott House in Washington, D.C. (122 Maryland Avenue, NE).
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Author of Diva Julia: The Public Romance and Private Agony of Julia Ward Howe, Ziegler said today: “Howe, now remembered for writing the words to ‘The Battle of the Hymn Republic,’ was absolutely committed to the Civil War. … But by 1870, she began to look critically at war, particularly at war between nations. By this time, she was also very interested in the women’s movement and women’s suffrage. So, she began thinking of what might be possible for women to do on behalf of humanity. …

“She would in time hold peace conferences both in the United States and in Britain. … And so, Mother’s Day originally was not a day when dad cooked and you went to church, and the ladies got applause and everything. It was really a day for women to come together and to call men and the world to see the necessity for living in peace, rather than giving into the ravages and aggressions of war.”

Ziegler is professor of religious studies at DePauw University in Indiana.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167