A Military Mother’s Day

Photo by Maj. Michelle Lunato, 98th Training Division, Fort Benning, GA

Mother’s Day is a special opportunity to salute and thank the mothers in our military community for their service on the battlefield and on the home front. After all, Mother’s Day was solidified as a crucial day to observe in part thanks to World War I. 

A presidential proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson formally established Mother’s Day as the second Sunday in May in 1914. But 4 years later, the second Mother’s Day observed after the U.S. joined World War I, things changed. Though the U.S. declared war on Germany in April of 1917, the full effects of a country at war wouldn’t be realized until the following year. 

Hundreds of thousands of men were away from home, and women were leading the charge on the home front. They had homes to maintain and families to tend to, funds to raise to help the war effort, and in some cases even had to join the workforce in an effort to support war production. This prompted campaigns to arise for the then-fledgling holiday. It became an opportunity to honor the mothers in people’s lives, for both their everyday contributions but also the great lengths they’d gone to show up for country during wartime. As one Army captain, Arthur Wolff, summed it up in his letter home in 1918, “today is known as Mother’s Day and every American soldier is writing home today.”  

It wasn’t surprising that every soldier was writing home. It was strongly suggested to do so by Gen. John J. Pershing, who was the chief of the American Expeditionary Forces. Pershing was a hardened veteran who served in both the Spanish-American and Philippine wars. He was not one who was expected to be struck by sentiment, but that shows the significance that family, and mothers specifically, play for service members. 

Though the war was long over before Mother’s Day came around again in May of 1919, the U.S. Military wasn’t letting their troops forget about their mothers and their service. Shortly before Mother’s Day in 1919, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (and future President) Franklin D. Roosevelt launched a telegram to the Navy strongly suggesting that they either write or visit their mothers for Mother’s Day. He added that “No sacrifices during the war have been more severe or borne with more bravery and cheerfulness than the sacrifices of the mothers of America.”

Since then, Mother’s Day has gone on to become one of the biggest annual holidays in the United States. It’s estimated that over 113 million Mother’s Day cards are exchanged every year. According to Hallmark, that makes it the third most popular greeting-card-sending holiday in the U.S. Remember to celebrate the mother in your life for Mother’s Day, and every other day too! 

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Posted on May 3 2021 in Blog

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