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Public Statements

Mothers's Day

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, this Sunday, May 9, is Mothers Day in the United States.

Many European nations have long observed ``Mothering Sundays,'' which are also part of the liturgical calendar in several Christian denominations. Catholics observe Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, in honor of the Virgin Mary and the ``mother'' church. Some historians believe the tradition of sending flowers on Mothers Day grew out of the practice of allowing children who worked in large houses that day off to visit their families. The children would pick wildflowers to take to their mothers on their way home for the visit. The ancient Greeks celebrated the Vernal Equinox with a springtime festival devoted to Cybele, a mother of many Greek gods. The ancient Romans dedicated the March holiday Matronalia to Juno, mother of the gods, and gave gifts to mothers on that day.

In the United States, the origins of Mothers Day are rooted deep in the West Virginia hills. Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis, was born in Webster, WV, on May 1, 1864. Her family moved to Grafton during her childhood. On May 12, 1907, 2 years after her mother's death, Anna Jarvis held a memorial service to honor her mother's memory. From that small event began Anna Jarvis' eventually successful campaign to institute ``Mothers Day'' as a recognized U.S. holiday.

Today, the International Mother's Day Shrine, located in Grafton, continues to commemorate Anna Jarvis' accomplishment. Yet there are mothers who will not receive cards or flowers, or enjoy a Mothers Day brunch with their husbands and children. In Montcoal, WV, there are 29 families who are grieving the loss of sons, husbands, brothers, and friends. The Nation grieves with them, but that is little comfort for those mothers who will wake on the second Sunday in May to quiet houses and silent phones. Mothers Day holds little comfort for the wives and mothers who must now get on with raising children and paying bills alone following this tragic event.

Mothers Day is a lonely day as well for the ``Gold Star'' mothers, wives and families of soldiers lost to battle in Iraq and Afghanistan. First used in World War I, service flags--a blue star on a white background, surrounded by a red border--are hung to signify that the family has a loved one overseas in harm's way. Should the awful news arrive that their loved one had lost his or her life, a gold star replaces the blue star, signaling the supreme sacrifice that has been made.

Miners' mothers and soldiers' mothers, as well as the mothers of anyone facing dangerous working conditions on a daily basis, know well the constant stress and tension of having a dearly loved child in harm's way. Every day is a long, silent, chanting prayer: ``Please, God, keep my child safe and bring him home to me.''

Tragedy reminds us just how much mothers care, and how much their children mean to them. This Mothers Day, we once again have an opportunity to thank our mothers for that loving care, and to thank all mothers for the great generosity of spirit that marks a caring mother.

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