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WV Hometown Of Mother's Day To Mark Holiday's 100th U.S. Observance

Reported: May. 8, 2014 6:11 PM EDT
Updated: May. 9, 2014 9:41 PM EDT
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GRAFTON, W.Va. (Heath Harrison) -- Mother's Day is coming up Sunday, and Friday marks 100 years since Grafton, W.Va. native Anna Jarvis, who conceived the observance, was able to persuade Congress and President Woodrow Wilson to designate the second Sunday in May as an official U.S. holiday.

Jarvis held the first Mother's Day service at Andrews Methodist Church in 1908 on the third anniversary of the death her mother, social activist Ann Jarvis.

The elder Jarvis was known for her life of public service, organizing Mother’s Day Work Clubs in the period leading up to the Civil War to perform charity, women's education and public health work. During the war, she treated wounded soldiers of both sides of the conflict.

Following Ann Jarvis death on May 9, 1905, Anna Jarvis began honoring her mother’s commitment to public service. In 1907, she gave out 500 white carnations in the church as a tribute. A year later, the church began the yearly services to honor all mothers.

In 1910, West Virginia recognized the observance, becoming the first state to do so.

Jarvis worked to get the holiday recognized nationally, contacting Congress, as well as presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

She envisioned the holiday as “a great Home Day of our country for sons and daughters to honor their mothers and fathers and homes in a way that will perpetuate family ties and give emphasis to true home life."

Coming a decade before women's suffrage in the U.S., Jarvis' efforts were considered radical for the time, but quickly gained support. Backing for Mother’s Day began nationally with churches, before elected leaders joined the effort. In 1914, Congress passed a resolution on May 8, 1914 establishing the holiday, and Wilson issued a proclamation the next day.

While proud of her role in establishing Mother’s Day, Jarvis, in her later years, decried the commercialization of the holiday, feeling her efforts had been misinterpreted and that the celebration had quickly become abused by retail stores and greeting card companies.

Jarvis originally envisioned the holiday as a time to compose letters of tribute to mothers, and hated the idea of store-bought cards and gifts, feeling they lacked personality.

“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world," she said.

Jarvis spent the bulk of her inheritance and time trying to restore Mother’s Day to her original intent, protesting for-profit sales of carnations and gifts, as well as yearly store sales that she felt were exploiting the observance.

Jarvis never profited from the holiday or her efforts, and is said to have been penniless when she died in 1948.

Andrews Methodist Church, located on Main Street in Grafton, has been incorporated as the International Mother’s Day Shrine and holds holiday services each year.

This year, several events are planned in Grafton to mark the nation’s 100th observance of Mother’s Day:

- An Art Expo, themed “A Mother’s Love,” featured elementary-aged artists of Taylor County and will be on display at the shrine until Sunday. On Friday, a young writers reception will be held from May 9, from 7p.m. to 9 p.m. for poets and writers to share their work.

- On Saturday, an elegant Mother’s High Tea will be held at the shrine. Seating begins at 3 p.m. and will continue until 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Seating is first come first serve. Music will be provided. Attendees are encouraged to wear their finest hat for a chance to win prizes and recognition. Following the tea, a concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. by the MACglee singers. Musical selections will include Gershwin Showcase, Big Band Bash, Gaelic Blessing and more. Tickets are $10.

- And on Sunday, the shrine will host its annual Mother’s Day service, beginning at 2 p.m. The event will feature the Knottsville Community Youth Choir. The speaker will be Joy Rose, the president and founder of Mamapalooza, Inc., a company by women, promoting mothers for social, cultural and economic benefit.

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President Wilson's May 9, 1914 Mother's Day Proclamation:

Whereas, By a Joint Resolution approved May 8, 1914, “designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. and for other purposes,” the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings, and the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country;

And Whereas, By the said Joint Resolution it is made the duty of the President to request the observance of the second Sunday in May as provided for in the said Joint Resolution;

Now, Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the said Joint Resolution, do hereby direct the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings and do invite the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.

In witness whereof I have set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this ninth day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States one hundred and thirty-eight.

[signed] WOODROW WILSON
By the President

[signed] William Jennings Bryan
Secretary of State”

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-- Pictured: Anna Jarvis



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